Malta – that beautiful enclave in the Mediterranean is a favourite for tourists all over Europe.
However, unbeknown to many, it was also host to an assembly operation which was home to the construction of Triumphs and Morrises among others. Christopher Camilleri takes up the story, with additional images from Andreas Lampka…
Carmaking was late coming to Malta – the Mizzi Organization set up their automotive division known as Car Assembly Ltd in 1960, and located a new, purpose-built plant in Marsa. The first car to be assembled in this new plant was the Triumph Herald, which proved to be a big seller in Malta (as it was in the other territories which possessed a Herald CKD operation). As time passed, the demand for new cars in Malta increased and, therefore, the production was ramped up in order to meet burgeoning demand.
Not only that, but consumers wanted better choice, and so it was through this increased demand for cars that widened range of cars was gradually rolled-out.
Thus, a variety of different models were soon being produced by the Car Assembly Ltd. In fact, a year after the Car Assembly plant was opened, a further two new models were rolling off the Marsa production line; the Dodge and the Hillman Hunter/Minx (Arrows range).
The Car Assembly facility remained operational until 1981, when the cars produced were the Alfa Romeo Alfasud, Mini and Morris Marina. As well as these mainstays, Car Assembly also played host to the production of a local version of the ubiquitous Commer Van, Rover P6 2000 and Austin-Morris 1100/1300.
Another interesting fact is that Car Assembly Ltd also exported models to other countries such as Tunisia and Jamaica. For example, the Maltese Morris Marina was exported to Jamaica, and the Triumph Herald was exported to Israel and Greece. Car Assembly Ltd was a great success in Malta where the company held a whopping 55 per cent of the Maltese car market.
As Christopher Camilleri quite rightly observes, ‘It is such a pity that it has closed.’
[Editor’s Note: Our thanks to Christopher Camilleri for contributing this article and to Andreas Lampka for the gallery images.]