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Tags:   Outdoors,   Cars,   Motoring,   Trucks,   Bikes

By Colin Fitz   -  September 04, 2014

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Photo credit:  Urszula Motyl

The Malta American Auto Club came into being 10 years ago on the initiative of five enthusiasts who decided to make the informal gatherings of such cars at Ghajn Tuffieha a little more formal and structured. Since then, the committee, now leading a club boasting 140 members, has organized monthly shows that have encouraged a corresponding rise in enthusiasm for Americana across the Maltese Islands.


“We make the preservation and enjoyment of US automotive history a priority in our club,” George club secretary George Muscat told SWAG at a show held in Manikata on Sunday 31 August.


“From local events and tours throughout Europe and even the USA, the American Auto Club Malta is here to bring enthusiasts and the general public together through exciting activities and friendship. We attended American car shows in the UK several times so far. In November we are going to the NEC Auto show in Birmingham. We also visited the biggest American show in Europe twice. It’s called the Power Big Meet and it's held in Vasteras, Sweden. We are going again next year in July.”


As country music boomed out of speakers and the air was punctuated by the occasional growl of a muscle car’s V8 starting up, George continued to extoll the virtues of joining the club.


“You don’t have to own a vehicle or even know how to hold a spanner… You can be involved at any level you wish. Whether it’s joining the committee or simply volunteering during events, exchanging helpful insights and learning from others, the possibilities are endless. The important thing is to share your passion for these cars with the rest of us.”

According to George, club owners own a total of 400 American cars, but there are actually around 2000 American vehicles in Malta, which is somewhat surprising, considering that the majority of Maltese are mostly exposed to European and Japanese models in car showrooms.


“Many American cars in Malta were bought a long time ago to be used for wedding transport, or by the military during the time the Royal Navy was in Malta,” George explained. “Others were brought back by Maltese migrants returning from living in the US. And since the 2009 car registration tax revision made it easier for enthusiasts to import classic cars, quite a few have been brought over.”


The club’s oldest vehicle is an impressive 1927 Chevrolet 1-ton truck, of the type you would see in a film about Chicago gangsters of the Prohibition era. Trucks and pickups make up about 5% of the club’s register.


At the other end of the scale is a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette that has just been imported.


If you want to see some of these cars in action, your best bet is to head to Zebbiegh, near Mgarr Farmers' Bar, every Sunday morning – although the club is also often invited to display vehicles at various local council events, usually with a philanthropic aim.


American cars are known to be huge, thirsty and not very good in the handling department, being designed for America’s wide straight roads not the narrow streets we have in Malta. How do the members cope with driving them here, I asked?


“Since they are left-hand-drive cars, at first you can find it a bit difficult to cruise around, but once you are sitting in it it becomes a normal car to you and traffic is the only real problem… engines start to heat up in traffic jams and so do tempers,” George replied with a smile.


As for actually importing a US car to Malta, the club secretary said it takes time and patience as the request must go through many departments, but the club is there to help with advice about the procedure. Spare parts, on the other hand, are very easily bought online from the States and usually arrive within a week or two.


To conclude, SWAG asked George what is the most common feedback they get when displaying their vehicles. He took a look around the show and declared:


“These cars are big, beefy and they are the best looking makes and models in the history of automobiles!”


The Malta American Auto Club’s committee is made up of Emanuel Pace – President, George Muscat – Secretary, Chris Grech – Treasurer, Ivan Zammit - Committee Member and Paul Abdilla - Committee Member. Check out their Facebook page here.


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