The classic enthusiast community in Sri Lanka is pretty vibrant, with an active club and events dotted across the year. One of the more regular ones is an informal Sunday drive that happens on the first Sunday of every month and consists of a parade style drive around the city ending in a cars and coffee like meet at a designated location. Due to issues with COVID-19, the drives were on a hiatus of several months, and finally resumed in December of 2021. Naturally there was a great turnout, with participants eager to take their cars for a good drive and engage in some car talk with like minded folk. I managed to snag some pictures of what I felt would be interesting to CC, and I hope you enjoy this glimpse into an aspect of car culture in our tiny island.
I didn’t unfortunately get any pictures at the start or on the drive itself (will attempt to do that next time), but still managed to get a few of the informal show at the end. There’s no set rule as to the age of the car you can bring, but moderns are generally frowned upon, except for one or two exceptions. Anyway, on to the cars!
As you can see from the lead photo and this one, the range of cars is quite eclectic, with everything from Minis to BMW and Mercedes 80s flagships and a lot more besides.
The two MGs would have made a great study in contrasts, but the CLK just had to be there dwarfing them both.
Speaking of Mercs dwarfing things, this W140 S500 made the Alfasud Sprint and Spitfire next to it look almost small enough to pack into it’s commodious boot. This particular W140 had led a hard life, but is now in the hands of a very enthusiastic young owner who is restoring it back to factory spec.
The common theme here could have been convertibles, if it weren’t for the Datsun ute. The Elise is a bit too modern, but because it’s an Elise no one fussed much.
It isn’t everyday that you get to see an Aston Martin DB2 casually sitting in between a DKW and a Volkswagen.
The way it was parked made it tough to get any decent pictures, but here are a couple more. This car has quite a history, including racing, a fire and a long time languishing as barely a shell. It was eventually bought by a family of enthusiasts who had the required resources to restore it right, and today is probably better than new.
I once had the good fortune to be able to sit in the car, and honestly found it pretty cramped due to the non adjustable seat and huge steering wheel. Still, there’s no arguing it felt very special.
Moving on to more everyday fare, here we see a pair of Peugeots with very different characters. The 205 is a GTi 1.9, while the 505 is an early SR model. I realized that we don’t have a proper CC post on a 505 saloon, might be able to rectify that soon.
I really liked the 205, so here’s another picture of it. It was pretty much immaculate as far as I could see.
Immaculate seems insufficient to describe this Volkwsagen type 3 fastback. I walked around it staring for just a bit.
Clearly very well restored, even the interior looked almost new.
Keeping with the VW theme, we have this gorgeous Beetle Cabrio. I’m not quite sure what the exact year of it is, but the registration year is 1963-64.
Inside seemed a touch more “lived in” than the exterior. It might possibly be original in there, though I can’t say for sure.
Parked next to the Beetle was basically the other end of the spectrum in terms of market positioning in terms of German cars of the 60s; a Mercedes Benz W109. But of course this isn’t just any W109, this is a proper, 300SEL 6.3! This car, the only one of its kind in Sri Lanka spent years languishing in a back yard before being rescued by the current owner, who has one of the largest car collections in the land. It was given a nut and bolt restoration at the Mercedes Benz agents, with input from MB Classic. The total outlay was not disclosed but is said to be “quite substantial”.
The results clearly speak for themselves, outside and in.
I’m not old enough to have seen one of these when they were showroom fresh, but I can’t imagine they were far off from how this car is now. The owner is known to be a stickler for detail, and all of his cars are usually restored to a standard that is quite breathtaking.
The 6.3 was kept company by a few more Mercs of varying ages. I didn’t get more shots of the Ponton but I got a bit closer to the C126.
The W126 and its coupe offshoot are my favorite Mercedes models of them all, one of the reasons being the timeless styling that just seems to get better and better as the years pass. The coupes are ultra rare here, with only 3 examples known, but sedans are still a reasonably common sight. Sadly, due to our country’s obsession with fuel economy, the great majority of W126 sedans have had their petrol engines replaced by diesel units, most often the 3.0l five or six cylinder Mercedes diesel. It’s such an epidemic that a 126 with the original straight 6 or V8 intact is a real rarity now, and a seller can basically name their price. Owning a proper petrol W126 has long been a dream of mine, but it’s starting to look out of reach given current prices.
Moving on, this X10 series Toyota Corona Mark 2 caught my eye, because it looked like it had driven off a showroom floor yesterday. These cars were quite common sights back in the day but they were all worked hard and driven into the ground, so finding even a reasonably tidy one these days is a rarity, let alone something that looks like this. I didn’t have an opportunity to chat to the owner, but must see if I can get in touch because I really am curious to see how this car managed to stay in this shape.
Even the inside has very few signs of a car that has likely passed its 50th birthday.
Finally, in case you’re wondering what I drove on the run; my current “fun car” (COAL upcoming) was being fixed, so I borrowed this from a friend.
That is a Caterham Seven 160, which is apparently the entry level 7 but still provides driving thrills like nothing else on the road. I’m hoping to do a more detailed post on the car, with driving impressions at some point, so stay tuned.