"Rally of a Decade: Paris-Persepolis-Paris"
CitroŽn 2CV Rally in 1971
By Darius Kadivar

French Engineer and Industrialist Andrť CitroŽn (1878-1935) founded one of the major car construction companies of its era. By 1922 he launched several expeditions across the world with his automobiles, thus providing an efficient publicity platform for his company. By far the most exciting expedition was the "CrosiŤre Jaune" aka "Yellow Rally" meant to persue by car what was known as the "Silk Road" joining the West and Asian continents since the Times of Cyrus the Great. At the end of April 1931, the expedition reached the outskirts of Teheran. The news of the arrival of the European crew composed of CitroŽn himself, George-Marie Haardt, and Victor Poit reached the ears of the then young crown prince of Persia Mohamed Reza Pahlavi. The crew was more than eager to explain to the Crown prince technical details related to their vehicle and Andrť CitroŽn was to take his majesty on a small tour through the dusty streets of Teheran.


 
Left the movie poster of the expedition; Top Right, Andrť CitroŽn's expedition. Below Right, CitroŽn drives the Crown Prince of Persia for a short trip through Tehran.

The expedition was then to persue its journey towards Afghanistan and after crossing Mashad, Herat and Khandahar it reached Kabul on June 9th 1931.


Western role models of the late Sixties and early seventies : Roger Moore and Tony Curtis Copyright © 2000-2003, The Roger Moore Web Team in one of the most popular Cult series of the 1970's "The Persuaders" aka "Kavoshgaran" and their Iranian counterparts (also actors in an Iranian film of the 70's )


In the beginning of the 1970s, CitroŽn's successors organised a number of events involving the "2CV", aka "Deux Cheveaux" in which young people (18 to 30 years of age ) from France and Europe followed the route taken by the "CroisiŤre Jaune" with the "Paris-Kabul-Paris rally" rally as well as the "Paris-Persepolis-Paris rally", and the route of the CroisiŤre Noire with Raid Afrique.The "Paris-Persepolis-Paris rally" ( prior to Dakar) was also the occasion for Citroen to launch a new colour brand for its "2 CV" baptized "Jaune Persepolis" aka "Yellow Persepolis". The publicity generated by the rally attracted more than 3800 subscriptions of which the organizers had to select 1300 people and 500 automobiles. Leaving Paris on the 31st of July their journey of 13500km was to make them cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel into Italy, Tito's Yougoslavia, the Greek Colonels Greece, a post-Kemal Ataturk Turkey and into Imperial Iran.




Prior to the "Paris-Dakar" Rally Citroen organized the "Paris-Persepolis-Paris" Rally. Competitors seen here in Paris shortly before their departure.



The magnificent landscapes, with rocky barriers colored tuquoise waters enchanted the participants. In Turkey however some participants were badly recieved by children with stones thrown at them seriously injuring a few drivers forcing them to abandon the rally. The reception in Iran was quite different, where warm smiles and encouragements were to accompany them through Teheran, Qom, Tabriz and Shiraz. Persepolis was finally reached on the 15th of August and the particpants were to return back to Paris on the 30th of August 1971.

Interestingly this Rally coincided shortly earlier with the celebrations of the Persian monarchy, held in Persepolis in October of the same year

Authors note:

Darius KADIVAR is a film critic and multimedia documentalist living in France