Vintage Cars Race Through Mediterranean Beauty At The Malta Classic
Photography by Tania Feghali
Imagine an island in the Mediterranean. A country measuring 122 square miles with the highest density of classic cars and enthusiasts you’re likely to find anywhere. You’re not dreaming, you’re in the Republic of Malta; part of an archipelago that lies 80 miles south of Sicily and 280 east of Tunisia, and the location of the Malta Classic, now in its sixth consecutive running.
The event is a four-day celebration of vintage machines, a journey through time and style with mesmerizing landscapes backdropping the whole thing. The route runs through the breathtaking setting of the ancient fortifications of Mdina and the exotic hills of Mellieha. Prime sightseeing is guaranteed. This is a look back on 2016’s activities, and I’m already looking forward to this year’s.
The origins of the Malta Classic go back to 2007, when French entrepreneur and classic car admirer Thierry Giovannini organized Malta’s Classic Car Grand Prix on the ring road of Valletta, and the inaugural Grand Prix drew some of Europe’s finest classics to the island to race wheel to wheel around the circuit.
In 2009, a group of enthusiasts who had been brought together through the event decided to set up the Valletta Grand Prix Foundation in order to carry on what Giovannini started a few years prior. Then, in 2011, the event was moved to its current location in Mdina, where it continues to celebrate style and speed against a historic backdrop. The weekend is more than just a drive through the scenery though, as there are three distinct events being held over the three days: the Malta Classic Hill Climb, the Malta Classic Concours d’Elegance, and the Malta Classic Grand Prix. While the events do tend to hold a similar mix of cars and people in attendance, there is plenty to see.
During the Gran Prix I had the chance to meet Mr. Egon Hofer, driver of a stunning 1968 Ferrari 250 Berlinetta SWB. Impossible not to notice the “Scuderia Serenissima” on the side, I asked what the story was. It turns out, Hofer’s Ferrari was loaned to the Scuderia Serenissima race team as a sort of a prototype testbed. After it was returned to Ferrari, it was sold to famous German racing driver Wolfgang Seidel, who used it for hill climbs and circuit racing.
As the sun rises over Mdina and the fortified city’s small alleys are slowly shaped by the light, Mr. Hofer shares his thoughts on the 250. Smiling, he says: “Driving the Ferrari is like a young man dancing with a ballerina: she will guide you subtly because she knows exactly how to move.”
In a lot of ways this embodies the event itself. Those who participate are guided by an effortless love of the automobile and a deep appreciation for beauty.