Egyptian collector keeps hundreds of classic cars

CAIRO (AP) — The past often clashes with the present in Cairo, with traffic snarling next to ancient sites.

Cars in the city can take a beating – between high temperatures, treacherous desert dust and the busy streets. Classic models are not uncommon, but they often languish in dusty alleys or garages. However, one man has decided to try and preserve a piece of Egyptian history on four wheels.

Car collector Mohamed Wahdan says he has collected more than 250 vintage, antique and classic cars. He discovered most of them in the country.

A fleet of this size would make him one of the best collectors of classic cars in the world. Experts typically classify vehicles as vintage, antique, or classic, depending on their year of manufacture.

Wahdan, 52, runs a tourism company that takes visitors to Egypt’s famous sites. But he devotes himself to his hobby. He has several garages to service them all, and employs a full-time team of mechanics to service them.

He says one of the challenges is getting the license plates off the car. Government employees often don’t know how to classify them.

Wahdan’s oldest, a 1924 Ford T-Ford that belonged to Egypt’s last monarch, King Farouk, is a museum piece, complete with a velvet rope to mark the parking spot in his garage.

The country’s layered history makes it a treasure trove for antiques. Egypt, a former British protectorate, was a destination for Europeans in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Italian, Greek and Jewish communities once flourished in Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. The historic markets, or souks, sell many memories of times gone by, replicas and real.

Wahdan has collected many. Turntable telephones, gramophones and old newspapers and stamps also fascinate him.

Recently, his cars have also made a name for themselves, with one appearing in a TV series in the 1930s. He has noticed that interest in collecting cars among Egyptians is growing as more people go to classic car shows where his vehicles are displayed.

One of his most cherished items is his first purchase, a 1970s Mercedes. Like his other cars, he doesn’t drive it very often. But he says he would never sell anything from his collection.

“Anyone with a passion for those cars can’t live without them,” he said.

Leave a Comment