Owners of Mini cars yesterday paid tribute at Ta’ Braxia Cemetery to the father of the original designer of the iconic car, who is buried there.

Some 50 Mini enthusiasts gathered with their classic cars on the 92nd anniversary of the death of Constantine Issigonis, whose grave was discovered this year by Pablo Vassallo, president of the Malta Mini Owners Club.

Mr Vassallo first became aware that Constantine had passed away in Malta after discovering a throwaway reference in a biography of the Turkish-born Alec Issigonis, creator of the Mini and several other classic British cars.

He then started researching the Issigonis family’s time in Malta in intense detail, eventually identifying the grave within Ta’ Braxia where Constantine lay buried.

Mr Vassallo’s research showed that Constantine had been evacuated to Malta from Smyrna (now Izmir) in Turkey with his wife and son by British Royal Marines in September 1922, due to the ongoing Greco-Turkish War.

On arriving in Malta, the family were quarantined in the Lazaretto on Manoel Island, where Constantine contracted an unspecified disease. The disease led to his internment in a hospital in Attard, where he died on June 1, 1923.

Constantine was buried in Pietà and his wife and son left Malta for the UK, where Alec got a job with the Austin Motor Company – the rest is history.

Mr Vassallo believes that Constantine Issigonis, who had himself worked as an engineer in Britain before the outbreak of the war, would have encouraged his
son to follow in his footsteps and his early death could have given his son the determination that led to his groundbreaking success. 

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