Former Ministerial saloon given to the National Collection
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A car used by two consecutive Prime Ministers until it was garaged at the Police Force’s garage by a “historically-conscious police officer” was recently handed over to the National Collection.
The Police said that the Austin Princess was the height of luxury when it was bought as Nationalist Prime Minister George Borg Olivier’s official car in the sixties. Its lavish interior, which includes wood trims, leather seats and panelling and high-quality carpeting, together with a glass division between the driver and rear seats for privacy, also appealed to Labour Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, who continued making use of it.
It was during the Labour tenure that the car was exclusively maintained by the Police Force’s mechanics, who were obliged to service it around the clock. “It is believed that the reason behind this was efficiency, as well as security,” the Police said.
Its future, however, looked bleak when it was decommissioned and it was probably only due to Former Sergeant Alfred Stivala, who was later promoted to Sergeant Major, that it remained in Government hands.
The Police said that “fearing the worst, Mr Stivala garaged the Austin Princess at the Police Force’s garage, where it was subsequently cared for by Inspector Anthony Agius, who is nowadays the officer in charge of the facilities.”
However, in recognition of its historical significance, the decision was recently taken to pass the saloon on to better hands and it was with delight that Heritage Malta took charge of the car.
During a meeting Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit, Collections Manager Martin Spiteri was optimistic about restoring the saloon to its former glory.
The Police said that the Government agency was also given a black number plate bearing a metal rendition of the former emblem of the republic and a national flag interestingly made to withstand winds when flown on the front during official events.