CC Outtakes: Car Spotting In Uruguay, Part 1

Text and Images by Riveranotario. 

This February I was for the first time in Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay. This city is one of the most well-known tourist destinations in that country since its old quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We got there just for the day on a ferry from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Of course, the most interesting part for me were the cars.

I’ll show you what I saw in those few hours in Colonia, mostly stuff from the 70’s and 80’s. If you’ve heard of Colonia before, or seen pictures, you will know there are some forsaken cars around too, left on the streets to give Instagramable spots for the tourists, I guess.

A Fiat 600 under a huge tree is a notorious sight on the road from the old train station (no longer in use) to the city’s old quarters.

After that, I saw this old Jeep CJ-5 which at first I thought could be made in Argentina, but then I saw the plate calling Kaiser the maker.

The US Kaiser, not IKA (Industrias Kaiser Argentina).

The Jeep included a Cadillac steering wheel!

In regards to new cars, vehicles of diverse origins coexist in Uruguay. For instance, you can see vehicles built in the Mercosur area (Brazil, Argentina, and a handful Uruguayan-built) and Chinese cars too. For example, here is the Fiat Pulse, an attractive compact crossover built in Brazil.

Then the Chinese brands; a Great Wall pickup truck owned by the city’s public works.

These FAW cars caught my attention since they weren’t sold in Chile and must have been popular in Uruguay. I saw 3 in this brief tour of Colonia.

This Geely GX3 Pro hasn’t arrived in Chile.

And of course, the (in)famous Lifan 320, a copy of the MINI that was also sold in Chile and was reportedly unsafe and poor quality. The Lifan was built in Uruguay as well.

Better get Back to the oldies: a Ford F-150…

And a Fiat Duna Weekend.

Like in so many markets around the world, BYD is growing its presence in Uruguay. I’d never seen the T3 van in person before, but the Yuan Plus is indeed sold in Chile and also used as a taxi. It’s funny how BYD has been sold in countries like ours for years, but they are just becoming better known in the US recently as they compete with Tesla in the EV market.

Here you have a new Citroën C3. Not the one you might be familiar with, but one for “developing” markets. Built in Brazil (India is another production site). LatinNCAP crash-tested one and it was awarded ZERO stars. Citroën sells both C3s in Chile, with the European-built one costing 50 percent more.

In Brazil, Hyundai produces some exclusive models for that market, like the HB20S. There are some limited exports, so I saw a few examples sold in Uruguay. These license plates starting with AAL in red letters mean this is a rental registered in Canelones, another city in Uruguay (A for Canelones, AL for rental car).

Chevrolet Chevette. These were built in Uruguay from Brazilian kits. Behind you’ll see a building apparently owned by Club Atlético Peñarol, one of Uruguay’s most famous football clubs.

I believe this newer Chevette was built in Brazil.

My big goal for this day trip was sending postcards from Uruguay. I’m a stamp collector and got into Postcrossing, an online group that connects people around the World to exchange postcards. I’ve always been a fan of the analog life –the times right before mine (I was born in 1988). Happily, I got to send a bunch of postcards and it wasn’t as expensive as in Argentina.

In front of the post office was this Renault Oroch, a pickup version of the popular Duster.

Ford trucks, yesterday and today: from a 1951 F-1…

To a current Maverick.

The Citroën Mehari was built locally in Uruguay and was quite successful. I saw this one in Colonia, and I remember seeing a few in Punta del Este two decades ago.

Here are a few old cars we saw on our way to bathe in the waters of the River Plate, first a VW Santana (Passat B2). I was particularly happy to see that Renault 18.

And a gorgeous Mercedes-Benz 300D.