When Adrian Vella discovered on timesofmalta.com that a vintage car once owned by former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff failed to attract any bidders he immediately called the auctioneer to buy it.

A doctor by profession, Dr Vella was at the Obelisk Auctions Gallery two weeks ago, as he had set his eyes on a painting.

But as soon as he sat down, the bidding for the picture was concluded, and he left for home empty-handed.

Later in the afternoon he was browsing timesofmalta.com and came across an article titled ‘No bids for Mintoff’s car’.

“I called auctioneer Pierre Grech Pillow immediately to tell him I was buying the car,” the antiques collector told the newspaper.

I called the auctioneer immediately to tell him I was buying the car

Dr Vella said the 1962 Mercedes Benz 190D saloon had been restored well and it was also of historical value for its link to one of Malta’s former prime ministers.

Restorer Kevin Paul Bajada was not aware of the car’s history when he bought it in 2005. The vehicle was not in a good state, and was even used to carry small agricultural machinery.

Through his research, Mr Bajada discovered that the vehicle changed hands once, when Mr Mintoff sold it.

Dr Vella told this newspaper the car will now bear a new number plate: DOM 062, which coincidentally happens to be the year of birth of Dr Vella.

Dr Vella has a collection of nine classic cars, and one of his favourites is a 1950 Austin of England that once belonged to his late grandfather Joseph Vella.

He had sold it around 20 years ago and some years later one of Dr Vella’s patients told him there was a classic car that might interest him. Little did he know it was his own grandfather’s car.