Classic Persia


a journey through the heart of the ancient Persian empire

Classic Persia – a drive across the once mighty Persian Empire from it’s westernmost reaches in Istanbul, through the empire’s ancient capital Persepolis and across the Persian Gulf to finish in Dubai.

I have driven across Iran twice, and it is without doubt the friendliest of God’s countries. The Iranian’s will insist they are not a nation of 80m terrorists while serving you tea and cake, and I can assure you that this is true. Iran is on the way up, with western relations making leaps and bounds. It is only a matter of time before it is open for business and everyone flocks there, as has happened with Burma.

Meet us in Istanbul, and we’ll take care of the rest. The gateway between Europe and Asia, an incredible city. As on the Great Game we stay at the world’s greatest traveller’s hotel, the Pera Palace. This is the hotel of the Orient Express, this is Hemingway’s hotel, the place from which all the great travellers set off on the long road east.

From there we enjoy 4 days of great driving and stunning landscapes, passing through Cappadocia and Lake Van, before crossing over into Iran. We spend a couple days meandering over the mountains of northern Iran before heading southwest into Iranian Kurdistan which, for my money, offers up the best driving of the entire rally. Landscapes phenomenal, people friendly…it’ll be a great couple days.

We make our way along some great back-roads through the Zagros mountains to Esfahan, arguably one of the greatest Islamic cities in the world. It really is impressive – the square rivals anything else I’ve ever seen. Next up Shiraz, itself a fascinating place – The people here are incredibly liberal, really pushing the boundaries of what it means to be Iranian. From here we’ll explore the heart of ancient Persia, its capital, Persepolis which lies in ruins after it was set alight by the hoards of Alexander the Great in 330BC. 50 miles down the road the lesser known Pasargadae is well worth a visit.

Down to the Persian Gulf and we board a ferry bound for Dubai. After taking in some of the worlds greatest historical cities, Istanbul, Esfahan and the ruins of Persepolis, steeped in mystery and intrigue and full of old-world beauty, what a contrast to suddenly find yourself driving in the modern business empire of Dubai. Once in Dubai we ship your car home.

Classic Persia is an invite only rally and we are only accepting 10 cars. As always with ROARR, a great driving adventure and in great company.

Total Distance: 6000km / 3700miles
Avg Daily Driving Distance: 500km / 300miles

~ Conrad Birch


  • Cost: POA
  • When: 2nd to 21st October 2016 (19 nights)
  • Transport: We arrange shipping of your vehicle from Dubai back to the UK. Shipping to other locations can be arranged upon request.
  • We Provide: 19 nights’ accommodation, vehicle shipping from Dubai to UK, RO/RO ferry Bandar Abbas to UAE, Iranian visas, local guide in Iran, 2 rally road books, rally plates, GPS unit, SPOT Tracker, support vehicle & rally mechanic, 24 hour assistance on event, 3 dinner parties. 
  • The Route: A lot of time has been spent discovering the hidden back-roads of the countries through which we pass so as to provide you the best possible driving experience. Daily driving time varies from 5-10 hours, with an average of 8h00. The route comprises some tough unsealed sections. Alternate routes will be offered to participants who deem these sections too challenging.
  • Not Included: Carnet de Passage; Turkish tourist visa; Marine Insurance


1. Bernard Gateau (US) & Dina Bennett (US)  /  2009 Land Rover Defender  
Great Arc of India 2009, Great Game 2011, Shangri-La 2014, Oman Off-Road 2015

2. Paul Merryweather (GB) & Sandra Merryweather (GB)  /  1974 Mercedes 280C
Tiger Rally 2008, Great Arc of India 2011, Classic India 2013, Alpaca 2016

3. Peter Cotes (GB) & Allison Cotes (GB)  /  1967 Lotus Elan
Himalaya Rally 2007, Tiger Rally 2008, Patagonia 2010, Shangri-La 2014

4. Michael Haentjes (DE) & Marlo Scheder-Bieschin (DE)  /  1937 Lagonda LG45
Tiger Rally 2008, Great Arc of India 2009, Classic India 2013, Shangri-La 2014, Oman Off-Road 2015

5. Kieron Brown (GB) & Phil Garratt (GB)   /  1975 Mercedes 280 SLC
New Participants!

6. James Laurence (GB) & Julia Laurence (GB) /  1979 Bentley T2
David Bradshaw (GB) & Caroline Bradshaw (GB)
New Participants!

7. Alastair Caldwell (NZ) & Mary Burn (GB)  /  1968 Porsche 912
Himalaya Rally 2006, Tiger Rally 2008, Classic India 2013, Alpaca 2016

8. Conrad Birch (GB) & Denise Farley (GB)  /  2006 Land Rover Defender
Selina Landis (CH)

9. Adrian Epps (GB) & Timothy Foate (NZ)  /  2012 Mitsubishi L200 Warrior