Return of a Princess: Seychelles’ first car to be restored to former glory
Built by the British Motors Corporation, ‘Princess’ was brought to Seychelles during the later period of the British colonial era. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Once the pride of Seychelles, the island nation’s oldest known car – Princess - is expected to be restored to its former glory.
Built in 1950, Princess was once the official state vehicle but now sits in desperate need of repair.
A recent communique from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism said there is renewed interest in Princess and in the possibility of having her restored to her younger self.
This possibility arises from a visit by Minister Sylvestre Radegonde and the British High Commissioner Patrick Lynch at State House - where Princess is based.
“I am indeed very keen and interested to have the car repaired as Princess has so much potential,” Minister Radegonde told SNA last month, adding that the car is part of the island nation's rich heritage.
For islanders, Princess is part of the nation's history, with many in the older generations recalling her as the once prestigious official state vehicle. It has both historical and sentimental values for Seychelles.
Built by the British Motors Corporation, ‘Princess’ was brought to Seychelles during the later period of the British colonial era. She was used by the last two governors - Bruce Greatbatch and Collin Hamilton - Allan - of the island nation and during Queen Elisabeth’s visit to Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - in the early 1970s.
|Built in 1950, Princess now sits in desperate need of repair a possibility now after a visit by Minister Sylvestre Radegonde and the British High Commissioner Patrick Lynch at State House. (Miniastry of Foreign Affairs) Photo License: CC-BY|
The car was later transferred to the culture department before being managed by the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) as a special hired vehicle for weddings and in national events such as the Creole Festival.
In 2005 after being put on display at the Eco Musee and later left without attention for several years, Seychelles’ former honorary consul in Italy, Graziano Luigi Triboldi, offered to restore the car.
Triboldi took the car to Italy, where a reputed collection car restoration firm, Carrozzerai Ravani Collection Car of Soresina, with four different mechanics, invested 400 hours of repair work on the old girl.
Triboldi noted back then that the original spare parts for Princess’s restoration were scarce and had to be ordered from the United Kingdom and this may be the reason why the UK High Commissioner was invited to the visit.
Local historian Tony Mathiot said that for the oldest car in the country it is sad that very little historical information about Princess is available.
“Despite this, I think it is wonderful to have this beautiful classic car repaired and up and running again,” said Mathiot, adding that once on the road, Princess will definitely be an eye-catcher and can once again find her rightful space in the Seychellois society.