COAL Update: Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes, LOTS of them!

When I wrote my last COAL post in January 2022, let’s just say I had no idea of the sort of year that was in store for my country as a whole. I wrote a previous draft of this piece a few months ago with lots of details about what was going on, but CC is a car site so I guess politics from anywhere really should be kept away. The short version is that decades of bad governing decisions came home to roost in 2022, and we found ourselves in chaos for most of the year.

If you want to know more, gives an overview of what was going on at the time. Proper viva la revolucion! stuff.

Anyway things have settled into some sort of quiet now, though we’re still broke and hoping for an International Monetary Fund bailout, life is a little better than it was in mid 2022, when we had zero fuel (resulting in multiple day long lines at fuel stations) and no electricity for the majority of the day, as well as shortages of basically everything. Messing around with cars sort of pales into insignificance when faced with all of the above, but speaking for myself, it helped me hang onto my sanity while dealing with the storm of excrement that 2022 brought, while also adjusting to becoming a parent in the middle of all of it. Probably because of that, my little fleet saw the highest amount of turnover it has ever seen, and I ended up selling three cars and buying four over the course of the year.  Here’s how that went.

Goodbye No 1: BMW E30 

Shortly after the E30 got its post, the steering rack, joint and wheel arrived so those were put on, improving the driving feel of the car even more. I discovered some spots of rust beginning underneath, so those were cleaned up and resprayed, and the dents were pulled by a PDR shop. A few more details were attended to, like new wheel cap badges and a bit more interior tidying up. After all that was done the car was treated to a professional detail and came out looking rather nice.

Not bad, right?

unfortunately by this point we were in the middle of a fuel crisis so driving for pleasure was out of the question, meaning the car sat for a couple of months. meanwhile fuel was getting increasingly hard to find (except for ordinary diesel, which was needed for public transport, goods transport and so on, ensuring at least some level of availability). Meanwhile my Mazda 2 could only run on premium (95 RON) petrol, and while the Surf ran on standard (92 RON), it used rather a lot of it, so I started thinking about getting something economical, diesel fueled and cheap as a “crisis mobile”. One day my friend who puts a lot of thought into tires casually mentioned that another friend was looking for something like an E30 and would I be interested in selling? I said I wasn’t actively thinking about it but they were welcome to have a look. They showed up within a couple of days and told me they’d been to look at almost every E30 on sale at the time, finding all of them to be rusty, missing bits or some other form of broken. Mine had no such issues and it quickly became evident that they were very interested indeed. Since I did rather like the car, I threw out a number that I felt was very high, certainly higher than any E30 sale price I had heard about. I was expecting a counter offer of course, but they just said they would take it without missing a beat! Occasionally I’m smart enough to know when to make the most of a good opportunity, so I waved goodbye to the E30 without feeling too bad. Some of the proceeds from the sale were funneled into a cheap, diesel powered beater, which will be discussed in an upcoming post.

Final picture I took of the E30, about to depart with the new oner (cropped to edit them out). 


Goodbye No 2: Mazda 2

As I mentioned in my COAL post for this car, while it was doing a great job being a fun and economical daily driver, the cramped rear seat was a problem, which only became more pronounced when my daughter’s rather large car seat was fitted. In order for the seat to fit, the front passenger seat had to be moved so far forward that only someone without any legs would be able to sit there. Since the majority of people likely to be front passengers were actually in possession of these appendages, this was not really sustainable, so the little Mazda had to go. It didn’t end up going very far, because my sister and her husband were looking to upgrade their car and the 2 would be the perfect fit for them. Naturally they got a large discount from the market rate when they took it over in June, and they remain very happy with it.

Like I said before, truly a Great Little Car

As for me, I don’t truly miss the 2 because the replacement (which was originally going to be something safe, boring, economical and practical, but eventually went in a….. different direction) is a car I REALLY enjoy owning, but it is considerably older and has stuff that needs doing, so I guess I kind of miss having a new-ish car, on which everything just works.


Goodbye No 3: Toyota Surf

This is the one that I’m already sort of regretting because I fully intended to keep this truck for several years. However, one of the many results of 2022’s events in Sri Lanka was the price of fuel quadrupling within a few months, along with consumables like tires and all auto parts. Given that the replacement for the Mazda ended up being something distinctly not economical on fuel (and needed premium/95 RON), I decided we needed something that could run on normal (92 RON) petrol like the Surf and use less of it overall. The cost of some suspension work and replacement tires also ended up being rather shocking (due to the fact our currency lost half its value against the US Dollar over a couple of days), making me that keeping it would not be affordable, so after some discussion on the home front, we sadly put the Surf up for sale. It only took a couple of weeks to sell and was bought by a guy who lives in the US and has a 4 Runner there, who wanted to keep this at his parents house here. We were genuinely sad to see it go, but the proceeds from the sale helped us to cover some upcoming expenses with plenty left over to look for a replacement.

This was really quite sad.

This time too the criteria were supposed to be; as new as possible, safe as possible, economical and boringly reliable as well as easy and cheap to maintain. I was pretty far along the path of getting something that met those criteria, but then a seemingly very good example of a car I have always wanted to own appeared, and well… you’ll hear about that pretty soon.