My Kind of Education
Memories of Museums consist of trudging around grey fronted buildings, guided tours with volunteers dictating to the uninterested. On a recent trip a friend recommended the Malta Classic Car Collection saying it was ‘well worth a visit’ slightly understated but he was right. All eighty plus cars and bikes on show belong to Carlo Galea; the museum creator and his way to resolve the issue of having his cherished collection spread all over the Mediterranean Island. Carlo is a property developer by trade but his car collection is his life, he loves the opportunity to share the story behind his collection, takes time to ensure you enjoy the experience and generally makes a great host. He told me of how the need to bring the cars under one roof led him to dig down two floors below street level under one of his luxury apartment blocks. When you enter at ground level from Tourist Street you come through the small shop and café. Some-what unsure of what to expect we paid the small 7 euro entry and descended the stairs below ground. Superbly lit the collection was well laid out with room to walk around them and very few ‘roped off’ areas which is usual for a collection of this stature. I questioned this decision when I spoke to Carlo later and he said that people who appreciate classic and historic vehicles treat them with respect and care, having them placed without being cordoned off works for him and the patron can admire the machine from all angles; here only the very best have a small red rope around them. The positioning of the cars has been carefully thought out and each area has pictures on the wall that reflect the car or its time. Petrol pumps and juke boxes, shop fronts and glass display cabinets adorn the two floors. The cars vary from the finest E Type and Concours winning TR3 to a Trabant P60 and BMW 700 saloon that has been left an unrestored ‘barn find’. Unlike the raging temperature outside, underground the air conditioning kept it comfortable; the vehicles and all in fantastic condition and the details of each are posted near or on the screen. Carlo told me the museum was constantly evolving with new cars coming in so I have listed some of the cars on show when we visited. With screens playing footage of rare cars and events such as the Mille Miglia and mannequins in period clothing, there is something for everyone to talk about. So, when you are bored with the beach check out ‘The Malta Classic Car Collection’ in Qawra; look out for Carlo Galea his stories are worth the entry fee alone and he loves to share them. The best £6.00 I spent in the Mediterranean.
The Malta Classic Car Collection-The Return 2017
It has been a few years since my last visit to the Classic Car Museum in Qawra, much has changed with the addition of many new and recently restored vehicles plus a clever collection of period clothing, furniture and pictures to compliment the paint and chrome on show. What’s it all about? well as their website explains;
The Classic Car Collection was the brainchild of obsessive petrol-head Mr. Carol Galea, an avid and self-confessed car enthusiast. He first began customising and building his own cars for local hill climbing races but his hobby evolved into a full-blown passion for classic cars. This is his personal tribute to the automobile industry – or as he puts it – it’s a ‘living and growing collection that spans more than 50 years of motor manufacturing’ The museum has a huge variety of cars, ranging from a 1955 Jaguar C Type to a 1972 Fiat 500F. They have all been carefully restored and lovingly preserved. There is a wealth of information contained inside our walls: dates, variants, production runs and even a little history about how some of the models came into our collection. We believe that every car tells a story and the ones inside the Malta Classic Car Museum certainly have a lot to say.
We met up with Carol who took time out to show us their latest additions plus the restoration area where visitors can talk with the craftsmen at work, currently rebuilding a lovely E Type. Whilst the heat of the Mediterranean sun beats down outside this subterranean display (yes, it is on two floors below a block of flats) is fully air conditioned. Plenty of space between exhibits means visitors can view from all angles in a relaxed and unhurried environment, minus any roped off/no go areas. Classic Alfa’s and Jags feature prominently but the owners eye for the unique and unusual is very much apparent with rare beasts from NSU and DKW. Bikes and scooters also decorate the space and with his addition of some fantastic ‘in-period’ furnishing and a new library area there is something for all the family; not just the average ‘car nut’ will enjoy. The real enthusiast will enjoy the addition of restored engines residing on stands alongside the cars they would be fitted to, a chance to admire the different approaches manufacturers took to their power units. Model cars fill every cabinet and along with the motoring memorabilia there are several juke boxes and domestic radiograms that no doubt filled lounges during the 60s and 70s. We have tried to capture the variety and spirit of the collection with the images and they feature a recently restored 1929 Pontiac 629 DHC (1) complete with ‘mother-in-law’ seat. A Fiat 1200 Cabriolet (2) from 1962 gleams in red with golf clubs resting on the rear seat; one of just 15k produced over four years. The lovely lines of the Alfa Giulietta Sprint Special (3) from 1960 feature the Bertone design clothed in all aluminium body and is the only version on Malta. For something completely different the NSU Prinz 30 (4) enjoys 600cc placed at the rear and this 1960 model was sold under the advertising slogan ‘Drive a Prince and you’re a King’. Finally, the owner himself offered a guided tour of his latest restoration, the stunning E Type (5) that would feature in the Malta Classic ‘concours d’elegance’ the following day. Many thanks to Carol Galea and his team at the Malta Classic Car Collection; recommended viewing for any tourist that requires a holiday from the beach with a feast of historic motoring.