From a square covered by a large floral display two weeks ago, Valletta’s main square was transformed into a square packed with vehicles. For a few hours St George’s Square became a vehicle museum for an edition of Concourse d ‘Elegance.
This recalled the days when St George’s Square was used as a vehicle parking area but this was a different and special one-off occasion when the square was packed with antique and elegant vehicles, and in some cases precious ones, that were used by the British Government, Maltese Presidents and Prime Ministers.
In the Presidential Palace yard were exhibited the two very first cars to be registered in Malta. Their owner David Arrigo described the moment when he purchased the first one, a Sidley.
Arrigo said “I discovered this car in 1968 in Gozo, it had been abandoned since 1907 in Gozo and that is the reason why it survived because it was forgotten about, nobody knew about it when it was pulled out of the windmill and dust was taken off it was discovered it had the Number 1 registration plate.”
Despite its age, David Arrigo said it is not a vehicle just for show purposes.
“It drives at 45 miles an hour, I try to avoid using it in traffic but a run at the coast road on a Sunday morning is a lot of fun”, he said.
Last December Anthony Camilleri bought a car that was manufactured in 1927 and his first thought was he would never drive it because the system is completely different to that of today’s vehicles.
Camilleri said it has three pedals but these have a different function. The first pedal on the left is first gear and there is no clutch. The pedal in the middle is reverse. At that time the roads were in a disorderly state and muddy and when the vehicle stuck in the mud, drivers would press forward and reverse to disengage from the mud. The third pedal which nowadays is what is called the ‘gas pedal’ is the brake. The accelerator is with the steering and the other lever is timing.
In all there were 83 vehicles on show made by 60 different manufacturers. An international panel of judges carefully inspected the details and condition of each vehicle.
John Spiteri said that classical cars are judged on their elegance, condition and their authenticity.
In all there are nine different categories including one for pre-war vehicles and another for post-war, a category for sporting and competitive cars and an award for restored models.