Thursday,20 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1329, (26 January - 1 February 2017)
Thursday,20 June, 2019
Issue 1329, (26 January - 1 February 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Classics in Egypt: Rust and ruin

Egypt’s forgotten national treasure — classic cars

King Farouk with his Rolls Royce, late 1930s

“Old is gold” is a popular saying usually describing something old that is still in good shape. You can still find gold buried deep in mountains with layers of dust and dirt covering its real beauty and value, but it is still gold. Unfortunately, this is the sad fate of many classic cars in Egypt which are thrown in old garages or even under bridges across the streets.

These cars are not only valuable but the original celebrities who owned them add to their value as well as drama to the story.

Talbot-Lago T26, Egyptian Royal Family 1930s photo courtesy of Malek

“Egypt had the best cars and most valuable in the world in the 1940s and 50s, and it kept going up until the early 80s,” said Yehia Rashdan, an Egyptian classic car collector.

So where have they gone? “People from all over the world came and bought many cars and shipped them to other countries,” added Rashdan.

It started back in the early 1950s, after the 1952 Revolution in Egypt, when many of King Farouk’s rare car collection was auctioned off, turning many heads towards Egypt.

Farouk’s Talbot-Lago, France 2014

For example, the famous Mercedes 540K which Adolf  Hitler gave as a present to Farouk for his wedding in 1938, was bought by a French collector in 1988. Also a 1938 Rolls Royce Phantom that belonged to Farouk was sold in an auction and shipped to Kuwait where it is now displayed in a museum that displays the cars of famous personalities. It’s the same story with the Rolls Royce of legendary singer and composer Mohamed Abdel-Wahab. It was sold and shipped outside Egypt a couple of years ago.

Comparing the condition of the cars that belonged to celebrities which are still in Egypt to those that were shipped outside the country, admittedly the ones that left were lucky since they received the proper care and attention they deserve because of the value and history they carry.

Farouk’s Rolls Royce in Kuwait, 2017

There are many classic cars in Egypt that once belonged to celebrities but which have now been neglected by their new owners. These cars are a national treasure that are an important part of Egypt’s history. For the cars to leave Egypt is a crime. Leaving them to rust is a bigger crime.

If restoring these cars is too expensive for their current owners, there are many ideas to provide funding to solve the problem. For example, the government can provide these owners with the needed funding in return by putting the finished product — classic cars — in a national Egyptian car museum for a certain period of time and using the funds coming from ticket sales. And restoring all classic cars in Egypt, not just those owned by the individuals who do take care of their cars, will keep the museum going. By doing so they will create an institute that can serve their cause of saving all classic cars in Egypt, and may be help in discovering the rest of possible hidden treasures. Let the gold shine again.

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