Morocco is full of hidden surprises, driving down a dusty, stony, sand beaten track you never know what you might find. It was like that on a short ride out of Marrakech, wondering if we had made a wrong turn we rocked up to the doors of probably the best publicly accessible collection of Vintage cars in Morocco.
Domaine du Retro, founded by Omar Bekkari, one of Morocco’s first pilots of Royal Air Maroc, is jam packed with both beautifully renovated models and those vintage finds which are waiting for a bit of love and attention to bring them back to their former glory. Omar was so passionate about vintage cars he once flew one back in his plane from the US for renovation, and he spent his life collecting and renovating.
Oil is in the blood of three generations of the Bekkari family, extending back to Omar’s father and now down to Omar’s two sons, Younes and Salim, who now run the renovation yard and museum after Omar sadly passed away last year. The brothers have plans to grow the reach of the business with not only personal guided tours but also soon, recorded tours.
It’s a great afternoon visit, there is a lunch and pool spot at the heart of the collection and brothers Younes or Salim are available to tell the tale of the cars peppered with family stories, you can really feel their passion for the subject. Cars are displayed and grouped by brand name; Ferrari, Cadillac, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Lancia…you’ll find all the classic luxury car brands there. There are cars with unique histories; a 1920’s Citroen truck that was used in an Indiana Jones movie (you can still see the dent where a stuntman fell onto the truck), or the 3 tonnes of 400 HP bullet proof Vega which was given to the King of Morocco by Charles de Gaulle. There are charming personal stories too of holidays taken in a yellow Cadillac, or a drive to Malaga in a vintage Mercedes 300 SL super light – and Younes was keen to point out a vintage mini which he used to drive to school. A standout car is the pink El Dorado Cadillac – created for Elvis, and there are classic Porsches of the turbo ‘Widow Maker’ type which led to an unfortunate end for James Dean and others. For racing fans you can find competition cars such as a Lancia made of Polyester, a six times rally winner amongst others, the family regularly enter cars into international races and rallies.
We asked Younes if there was a car that was missing in the collection he would love; “A Bugatti Atlantic of the type Ralph Lauren has” he said, “our father just missed the opportunity of getting one” – so if you have a dusty Bugatti wreck under wraps – you know who to contact!
Time spent in the renovation yard is also worthwhile as you can really understand the level of care and attention it takes to restore these cars, from stitching upholstery on a classic leather overlocker to the meticulous polishing and painting of specialist renovators – it’s hard to believe looking at the renovated versions that they started life as such rusty shadows of their former selves.
The peak of the whole visit is the chance for a quick spin in a car of your choice, we chose a Vintage Mustang – it was thrilling to hear the guttural purr of the engine and feel like a filmstar for a moment in time. Just as we left a young Frenchman was arriving – he’d booked a car for the day for an event – you can book cars out, and even drive to the desert in one – although it doesn’t come cheap, its sure to stick out as an iconic memory of a lifetime especially for car enthusiasts.
For more information or to book a trip to the museum or to hire a car, contact email@example.com. We can design your trip, or create a memorable event with vintage cars as part of the experience.