Lucky Number 7

Who doesn’t like an old photo? I feel truly lucky when I come across such old photos, especially if there are cars in them and it’s more than 100 years old!

The fact that they didn’t get lost along the way and all the history behind a photo is just fascinating! What is even more fascinating is that when you share it you might understand the history behind it, even more! That’s what happened when I was scrolling on Facebook the other day. I came across this photo below posted by Baroncino Stephen Testaferrata Moroni Viani showing his great-great-grandfather’s car, Baron Salvatore Testaferrata Moroni Viani (Nat. 30/11/1866 Obt. 19/9/1911) and his personal chauffeur in what might be a Darracq post 1907.

I couldn’t help but notice that the place might be the old Mosta Bridge, I might be wrong though, but then again, I never saw such old photos of the bridge then and I also noticed that the car doesn’t even have a registration number on, so according to my friend and lead archivist at the Malta Bus Archive, Richard Stedall, this must be a photo taken before 1908 when registration on cars wasn’t even introduced yet! So Salvatore definitely falls under one of the first people to own a car in Malta! Although according to David Arrigo, a book author on automotive history, he was pretty sure that this carried registration number 7 and the same number was carried forward by 3 generations.

The conversation with Stephen continued on Messenger, where he shared with me some more photos and it kept getting more interesting! He had a photo with his great-grandfather Baron Pietro Paolo Testaferrata Moroni Viani (Nat. 30/11/1886 Obt. 18/3/1954) and his cars, my guess, a late 20s Studebaker and a Ford V8 Pilot according to a friend Stuart Abela, also according to Richard Stedall, the photo with the Ford V8 Pilot is definitely taken abroad due to the GBY plate at the back on top of the registration number 7, which was the old international code for Malta.

The same car is also pictured here with his grandfather Baron Salvatore (Salvino) Testaferrata Moroni Viani (Nat. 19/9/1930 Obt. 20/4/2017) with the same Ford V8 Pilot since they were travelling together and with a 50s Kaiser Deluxe with the same registration number 7.

Then when I saw the below photo of Stephen’s great-grandfather Pietro Paolo with his grandfather, Salvino, his eldest son, it got me thinking, why there’s a letter J prefix on the number plate and according to my friends Stuart and Richard, this is because the car shown here was registered in Jersey Island and Stephen even confirms this with his notes on the other photo as the niece of Pietro Paolo was the Senator of Jersey (Channel Island)

From left to right: my great-grandfather Pietro Paolo, his daughter Beatrice, Ms Ann Baal (She was the niece of Pietro Paolo & she was a senator of Jersey (Channel Islands)), his son Mario & I don’t know who the young girl is/was.

Did you enjoy this article? can you notice anything else we might have missed or got wrong?

Please do let us know in the comments section and if you have any old photos with an interesting story behind them, email them to us at [email protected] 😊

Matthew Camilleri

Visual designer, classic car and motorcycle owner/enthusiast, vintage collector, love the great outdoors and when not working on Rotta, you might find him at a car boot sale near you.


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