Sheikh Zayed’s Classic Phantom Found in Vienna

Abu Dhabi auto historian now wants to bring it back home in time for Expo

While researching for a book he was writing about the automobiles of Sheikh Zayed to coincide with the Year of Zayed, Mohammad Luqman Ali Khan was flipping through books in the UAE’s national archives when he came across an old photo of a Rolls Royce Phantom being unloaded onto the shores of Arabia.

Having embarked on what he feared would be a near impossible quest, through archival research and with the help of friends, clubs and marque experts, he finally managed to track down the car to a quaint suburb in Vienna, Austria in February 2019, after over a year of trying to contact its owner.

Records stated that the car was showcased at the 1965 Earl’s Court Motor Show in London, and then delivered in 1966 to the then Ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Used extensively by Sheikh Zayed, it was reportedly used by the Founding Father during his inauguration as Abu Dhabi Ruler and later UAE President, and it even ferried James Treadwell, the first British Ambassador to the UAE, to a ceremony on the day the UAE was formerly established on December 2, 1971. Other important passengers included none other than Queen Elizabeth II during her state visit in 1979.

“I felt overawed, and overwhelmed by the scale and significance of this discovery, and the enormity of it didn’t sink in until much later,” said Mohammad. “It is not often that you discover state motor cars, and rarer still, to learn it is the most important motor car in the history of the nation.”

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