BUCHAREST, May 27 (Reuters) – Iranian collectors line up to bid on an Iranian-built luxury car given to late Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1974 by the Shah of Iran to mark his election as President of the late Socialist Republic of Romania.

The Paykan Hillman Hunter, built from 1967, was the first car built by the Iranian National Company and became not only a landmark of Iranian industry, but also a national icon.

“The interest is huge. We have received over 100 bids,” said Alina Panico, of the Artmark auction house in Bucharest.

“Romanian four-wheeled gem collectors are present, but most of the offerings come from Iranians who want to bring home a national symbol from the 1970s.”

The limousine version auctioned Thursday after 3:30 p.m. GMT is in perfect running order, with a top speed of 145 km / h (91 mph) and a 1.5-liter inline-four engine producing 54 horsepower . The starting price is 4,000 euros ($ 4,900), but Panico has said it will likely fetch at least 10,000 euros ($ 12,200).

Hillman, originally based near the English Midland town of Coventry, was one of the oldest and most prolific British car brands, and the brand continued in use until 1976 by its owner d ‘so, Chrysler.

After unsuccessful attempts to build Fiat models, the Iranian state-owned company produced its first Paykan under license from Hillman in 1967.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had visited Romania in 1966, beginning an era of trade and diplomatic relations, and a friendship with Ceausescu.

The Romanian leader had come to power the year before and set out to create one of the most repressive regimes in Eastern Europe during the Cold War era.

In 1989, as communism crumbled, he and his wife Elena fled mass protests in the capital, but were quickly captured and shot by a hastily assembled firing squad.

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