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1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom 17EX prototype wins Valletta Concours in Malta

Words: James Elliott | Photos: Joel Saliba

The 1928 boat-tailed Rolls-Royce Phantom prototype known as 17EX won Best of Show at the Valletta Concours d’Elegance in Malta on Sunday (June 2, 2024). The ex-Maharaja Bahador of Jammu and Kashmir car was making its first public appearance since its purchase by renowned Indian collector Yohan Poonawalla.

It became the second overseas entry to take Best of Show in just six runnings of the concours, with the 1960 Citroën ID19 Le Paris of the late Peter Mullins and his wife Merle taking Best of Show in 2018.

Other big winners in 2024 included an ex-Mille Miglia 1951 Fiat GT Zagato 750 Derivata MM, owned by Japanese enthusiast Hidetomo Kimura but kept in Italy, plus several Porsches entered from the extensive collection of local Maltese architect Chris Cachia.

The free-to-attend Valletta Concours takes place in the 17th century St George’s Square, which sits in the heart of the baroque capital city largely constructed by the Knights Hospitaller in the 16th century.

The highly inclusive event uniquely blends significant international entries with gems from a large number of local car collectors, as well as an army of immaculate everyday classics.

There is a very distinct culture in Malta in which cars are often treated as members of the family, cherished over generations and kept pristine, often driven only at weekends. This is reflected in everyday family models preserved or restored to a standard you will not see in such quantity anywhere else in the world. Plus, because of the UK’s historical ties with the island, and traditionally having shipped huge numbers of CKD kits there, many of the cars were locally built, often by the people showing them at the concours.

The result is one of the most diverse entries of any concours, in 2024 ranging from pedal cars to a Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 and Porsche 914/6, via a Welsh police Triumph Tiger 90P motorcycle.

In the restoration class, Chris Cachia’s 1967 Porsche 911 S just pipped the finest Austin A40 Devon the judges had ever seen, either in the UK or abroad. The humble Austin finished ahead of some very expensively restored high-end machinery.

Created and organised by John and Joel Saliba, the event punches well above its weight when it comes to judges, too, with an international panel of close to 30 presided over by Jeremy Jackson-Sytner and including Peter Stevens, Harm Lagaaij, Philip Porter, Richard Charlesworth, Michael Quinn and Allan Winn.

Full concours results can be found here.

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