José Rodríguez Cámara
Alhaurín de la Torre
Friday, 2 February 2024, 13:03
King Farouk I of Egypt was crowned in 1937. During his reign, to put it mildly, he was not popular with his subjects and, in 1952, he was overthrown and forced to abdicate. Those years on the throne, however, gave him plenty of time to nurture his expensive hobbies; one of them was luxury motorcars.
“He loved Packards,” says Joaquín Campos Ortega, of Alhaurín de la Torre, who adds, “In fact, this one here, from 1938, was one of his.”Packards are considered among the most ostentatious motorcars produced by the industry in America and they are now much sought-after, given that relatively few were manufactured. When Campos Ortega was looking for one to add to his collection of “toys”, which now includes 14 “treasures”, he found this one in the US; he brought it back to Alhaurín, with the idea of putting it back on the road.
He spent five years working on the car and it was during that time that he discovered that the vehicle had belonged to royalty.
“I had to restore the paintwork to its original colour and I couldn’t find the reference so I contacted the Packard Club. They asked me for the chassis number so they could give me the exact tone and they were able to provide the detailed history of the car; that’s how I found out that this was one of the Packards that belonged to the King of Egypt.
So why does this Alhaurín resident have so many vintage cars? “My hobby comes from my grandfather, Joaquín Ortega Ortega, who was a pioneer, as he bought a bus to take passengers between Malaga and Churriana. There he is remembered as he never left anyone on the roadside, even if they didn’t pay their fare. In the end that was what ruined him,” jokes his grandson. “In my case, apart from my granddad’s influence, I think they gave me petrol instead of milk, when I was a boy. Cars are my life; I spend hours here,” he added.
In fact, all of his professional career is linked to motoring, with long experience as head of secondhand sales at Volkswagen in Malaga.
Another of his vehicles came from his uncle, a 1934 Peugeot 201. This was acquired at a Ministry of Public Works auction when it was renewing its fleet of vehicles used by members of staff. And this is not the only car linked to a profession: in his warehouse he also keeps an Austin A30, a small car typically used by doctors.
“In the fifties, cars were sold by quota and this one tended to be given to doctors,” explains the collector, who, laughing, follows with another anecdote about the Austin. He used to call it “cerdito” (little pig), due to the shape of its rear, which makes it unique, along with the mechanism for the rearview mirror with a lever that lifted up.
In Ortega’s “museum” there is also a Citroën 11 Presidential, a rarity as it was the predecessor of the legendary Citroën DS (nicknamed the Shark in Spain), made popular by French president De Gaulle, and was used to “test” its successor’s engine.
There are two Rolls Royce Silver Spirits, one of them from Alhaurín el Grande and another that came from “a friend” who rejected the car, still new, after suffering a small bump “out of superstition”.
A 1928 Ford A and a Honda motorbike from when he was young, of which only two were sold in Malaga, one of them gifted to him by his father, complete this journey through the history of motoring which, says their owner, brings him “commitments from all sides”. One, in fact, was to drive a well known local politician to his wedding.