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Reflections On Sri Lanka's Automotive History By Mr. Sylvi Wijesinghe

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The Don    441

My deepest sympathies as well Sylvi. As for the thread it is turning out to be rather interesting.

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SeanD    69

For any members interested in the complete history of buses in Sri Lanka, I recommend the book "Sri Lankan Buses past and present" edited by David Corke. It is available at Lake House Bookshop (not sure why the price is indicated so high on the web as I got it much cheaper at the shop)

http://www.lakehousebookshop.com/pdesc.php?id=2004

Fascinating piece of work with photographs and descriptions from every era of the country's bus history, from the earliest wooden buses to todays metal monsters. Highly recommended.

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Scooter    24

It's might be that there were auto transmission type cars in Ceylon pre Sir John's 56 Caddy. For example here is a picture from the Motorbase site of a Lanchester Leda (Lanchester 14) in Kandy that has an EY rergo from the early 50s (is that dating correct?):

fs_leda_lanchester_in_ceylon_1969__adj.jpg

These Lanchester's (made by Daimler with a 1968cc engine) ) had an automatic transmission made up of a Daimler fluid flywheel transmission linked to a Wilson 4-speed preselect box. Basiically did away with the clutch but you did select by hand the gear that was wanted next. Reckoned to be one of the smoothest systems ever devised. The fluid flywheel did not act as a torque convertor but the system operated in a way that allowed the car to start in top gear (if desired) and it would amble along at a walking pace in any gear. The write up at:

http://daimlerandlanchester.wordpress.com/how-to-drive-a-pre-selector/

provides a superb introduction into driving these early autos.

Anybody got other examples of early autos on the Island?

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Sylvi    192

My deepest sympathies as well Sylvi. As for the thread it is turning out to be rather interesting.

'The Don',

Thank you for your sympathies post.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

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Scooter    24

Sam, it's just because I've got so bl**dy old! I'm busy losing my teeth and my hair and forgetting everything else except the cars I love(d). :-) A lot of my interest came because of Dad, who was a real mechanics/car nut. He spent most of his working life driving and fixing cranes, and bulldozers, and trucks and it sorta rubbed off on me. Busses are one of your vehicle interest, Sam?

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Sylvi    192

It's might be that there were auto transmission type cars in Ceylon pre Sir John's 56 Caddy. For example here is a picture from the Motorbase site of a Lanchester Leda (Lanchester 14) in Kandy that has an EY rergo from the early 50s (is that dating correct?):

fs_leda_lanchester_in_ceylon_1969__adj.jpg

These Lanchester's (made by Daimler with a 1968cc engine) ) had an automatic transmission made up of a Daimler fluid flywheel transmission linked to a Wilson 4-speed preselect box. Basiically did away with the clutch but you did select by hand the gear that was wanted next. Reckoned to be one of the smoothest systems ever devised. The fluid flywheel did not act as a torque convertor but the system operated in a way that allowed the car to start in top gear (if desired) and it would amble along at a walking pace in any gear. The write up at:

http://daimlerandlan...a-pre-selector/

provides a superb introduction into driving these early autos.

Anybody got other examples of early autos on the Island?

'Scooter'

Very difficult to find any of Lanchester's on your picture in S L now.

I can remember there were few Lanchester's in Ceylon; I don’t see any of them on the road now.

At that time the best car was with late Mr. Ratnathunga who was an Engineer lived in Colombo 060.

If I am not mistaken they were imported by M/s, General trading corporation was owned by late Mr. Subiah who was a success full business men went back to India due to hisTRP expired and the government did not extended same.

later Mr. M Dodawela bought the establishment and changed name to M/s, Stuart motors and it was situated on Galle Road Colombo 030. Where c******o towers are coming up now. Close to St Thomas Prep Galle road sea side. They imported Singer Gazelle just like Hillman and Borgward car from Germany. I think Harley-Davidson motorcycle too was imported to Ceylon by them.

Land side opposite next to Temple trees Minerva house was there they imported Minerva Cars to Ceylon. According to my late father had told me. Minerva house was demolished very recently to expand Temple trees.

If there are any mistakes of my memory on above vehicles history in Ceylon please do correct them.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

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carboy2011    32

also to add Triumph Herald and Standard 10 and Standard Vanguard cars were imported and sold by Brown and Co and stokced spares till mid 80's any info on Triumph Herald history and stories in Ceylon/Sri Lanka most welcome with pics if possible

Renaults were imported and sold by CNT or CMT Motors ( i could be wrong here)

Lloyd Alexandar TS (West German) were with Dimos

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SeanD    69

Very informative, Sylvi, tx. There's a guy with an interest in the Rowland family and the garage at:

http://rowlands-in-c...chapter-32.html

That Turret Road area must have been quite a car locality. There are mentions around on the web of Kollupitiya Motors, Marlan Motors, Wijaya Motor Store and Auto Alley near by. I can't put a date to these other than they were a few years ago.

Plenty more information on Rowlands and the family at the Genforum:

http://genforum.genealogy.com/srilanka/messages/301.html

I see uncle Sylvi too has posted well over 10 years ago :) There are plenty of interesting posts there for those interested in the subject, and the fates of old corporate ceylon. One Mr. Hugh Karunanayake is particularly knowledgeable and helpful.

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Sylvi    192

also to add Triumph Herald and Standard 10 and Standard Vanguard cars were imported and sold by Brown and Co and stokced spares till mid 80's any info on Triumph Herald history and stories in Ceylon/Sri Lanka most welcome with pics if possible

Renaults were imported and sold by CNT or CMT Motors ( i could be wrong here)

Lloyd Alexandar TS (West German) were with Dimos

'carboy2011',

Yes correct Standard Vanguard,Triumph Herald,cars were imported and sold by Brown and Co.

Renaults were imported and sold by CNT or CMT Motors. They were imported by Ceylon Forign Trades Engneering at Union Place allmost opposite Union Chemists now Dialog building is there.

Lloyd Alexandar TS (West German) were with Dimos.Correct very small car.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

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Sylvi    192

Plenty more information on Rowlands and the family at the Genforum:

http://genforum.gene...ssages/301.html

I see uncle Sylvi too has posted well over 10 years ago :) There are plenty of interesting posts there for those interested in the subject, and the fates of old corporate ceylon. One Mr. Hugh Karunanayake is particularly knowledgeable and helpful.

'SeanD',

Yes you are correct I was always interested in history what I wrote to this forum is written there about Late Mr..A.P.Rowlends.

.

Mrs. Carolise’s son when he went to UK met this Mr. Rowlends who was a relation of them, who has posted requesting any information. After my giving the contact numbers they exchanged some emails and few telephone calls.

It is better you address me in future as Sylvi.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

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Mr.Silvy,

I slightly remember (in late70s/early 80s) there was a taxi service in Colombo , mostly Morris Minor cars , roof painted in yellow and other body area in black colour. Also there was a large Taxi meter fixed on left front fender.

Were those cars belonging to some company or to individuals?

Please share your knowledge on the taxi service had with good looking cars at that time.

Also added two following interesting links about Morris Minors.

Morris Minor - Identifying your car

http://potteries.mmo...uk/Identify.htm

Morris Minor - Parts Catalog

http://britautoparts...g/morriscat.PDF

Edited by Sampath Gunasekera

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Scooter    24

Colombo, 1981, yellow-top Morris MInor taxis....and they tended to come with the non-optional extras of rusty holes in the floor thru which the road could be see, and frequent flat-batteries so the can needed a push start!!!!!

Great little motor there, Sam, the A-series, in MHO the best engine for the keen amateur mechanic ever.

And by the way, in the bad economic time on the Island in 1971, there were reports of Morris Minors changing hands for 4,000 pounds sterling....an absolute fortune.

Hope this is not off topic or some looney will start shouting at me....DILLIGAF?

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Watchman    1,631

Hope this is not off topic or some looney will start shouting at me....DILLIGAF?

Not sure if you give one or not, but if you show us your photo we can tell you if you look like a F#*k or not.

PS: This is not a marketing trick for my business 'Do-I-look-like-a-F*&k consulting service pvt ltd'.

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Sylvi    192

Mr.Silvy,

I slightly remember (in late70s/early 80s) there was a taxi service in Colombo , mostly Morris Minor cars , roof painted in yellow and other body area in black colour. Also there was a large Taxi meter fixed on left front fender.

Were those cars belonging to some company or to individuals?

Please share your knowledge on the taxi service had with good looking cars at that time.

Also added two following interesting links about Morris Minors.

Morris Minor - Identifying your car

http://potteries.mmo...uk/Identify.htm

Morris Minor - Parts Catalog

http://britautoparts...g/morriscat.PDF

Mr.'Sampath Gunasekera',

YOUR POST IS PERFECTLY CORRECT.

First of all must thank you for good old Morris Minor Car WEB links that give me, good old memories. Of that car.

There were two models of M/M in Ceylon. Side valve and Overhead valve. If my memory is correct there were no side valve model taxis of M/M in 1950s.

First taxi ( no metering ) car service was belongs to Late Mr. Bobby Arnolda he mostly served tourists who was traveling during the Colonial era with big American cars had fixed charges for the tours depending the distance mostly to Historic places in Ceylon. There was no city tours. Colombo Port touring car service was a Association Drivers was With white tunic collar jacket and some were dressed with cloth they all spoke very good English and had a good knowledge of Ceylon roads. Few other language translators they were tour guides. All of them served the tourist industry untill Aroplanes started arriving first with VC 10 Aircraft's owned by BOAC started in mid1960 Katunayake Air port was developed before they landed in Air force Air strip.

All private car owners used to hire their cars big and small with the driver for wedding hiears funerals and what ever event who did not have cars to travel. Most towns few cars were their on main bus central stands. Train terminatin stations as well as on the Rail way big towns.

Cars at that time was used for hires were hillman ford consul zeppher Waxhall 6 cylinder in up country Opel Austis few cars. Jafna had mostly Austins and Morris Minors. Easten coast major towns had mixed of cars

Ford zeppher for robires and illicet liquer transport with tanks specially build on them.

There were no passenger transport vans exept for VW vans went to Galle and Kandy for Rupees 3.50 per person 8 to 10 passengers in very quick time.Non stop in under 3 hours.

Later late Mr. V. E. R. De Mel started Quickshaws in early 1950s with 4CV 50 new cars Renault Taxi service with a meter ( Cannot remember the name) he imported the meters him self. He was a top Civil Servant during good old days, later late Honorable S.W. R. D. Bandaranayake PRIME MINISTER. Appointed Mr. V. E. R. De Mel to take over all Private Bus companies to inaugurate CTB.

Late Mr. V. E. R. De Mel I can say farher of the present day efordable metered Cab servises. Which is very populer and the Honrable Late Presedent J.R.JAYAWARDANA for interduction of threewheelers to our paridise Island once Ceylon was called Perl of the Indian ocen.

Thereafter few companies like to mention few names I can remember Ranjani Cabs, ABC Cabs, City Cabs, T.G.Hinniappuhamy cabs who started with a more spacious M/M Overhead valve car. With meters. If I can remember car Cost was Rupees:6500.00 with Rs:2000.00. Can finance a car no Leasing of Automobiles like today. Leasing Companies coming up like mushrooms today was not existing at that time. Only Finance companies.

During the last few days of government before free econamy was allowed few taxi owners who had owend registered to their names or companies taxies for cosidearable time were given with permits for 5 Siri Morris Minor cars and VW cars few went for VW most prefered Morris Minor Ithink that was little higher CC Capacity and they were not economical as good old day Morris Minors.

like to answer this type of incquaries from the forum members. Who like to know about our Automobile history.

This is a very long history what I can remember, this may be a history lesson to some members who callfor my posts. Before I kick the bucket. I will complite 69 years by end of this year. like to answer details of motoring history what I know. Whatever I have heard from relaible old people who can contrbute to this forum some are ded and very few are living who can inform relaible history.

Must be thank full for moderators opening this thread

I allways belive and inform others where ever I have traveled out side world.

HISTORY IS OUR PRIDE. Among Srilankans.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

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Watchman    1,631

Hey Sylvi,

Nice work on this thread!

Btw since you know a fair bit about the history of busses and trucks too i was wondering is you could share with us how the bus/lorry assembly industry rose (and fell) in sri Lanka.

I recall some Latec busses, then a D*MO bus with a bubble like face, then a more luxurious simlar bus then Lanka Ashok laylends all being part of this industry which currently is dying down.. I'm sure there'a a lot of us who'd like to hear about this too..

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Scooter    24

Great taxi post, Sylvi. Lots of information here. I recollect seeing somewhere on the web a family page about the Hinniappuhamy family - were they into the food business and three-wheelers or I am completely wrong? Have you guys seen the Charles Waite Morris Minor SL film series? There are 3 or 4 clips from the early 90s on YouTube.....in this one, in the last few minutes, there are shots of yellow top MMs on the road:

Had a look around and there seems to be a real dearth of photos of those early yellow tops available, yet those taxis used to be everywhere. Perhaps some AL family albums might be able to supply a few nice pics?

And - as an aside - blimey, first I've got that nooby moderator talking about my arse and now this Watchie guy, with the cute curlers in his hair, is begging for my photo. I'm going to be keeping my back against the wall around here, I tell you.

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carboy2011    32

great post Sylvi than you

I remember seeign the VW Beetle taxis as late as 1991 in front of Mount Lavinia Supermarket and Morris Minors till mid 90's in Colombo as taxis ,the VW Beetle was black with yellow hood

I have heard about Ranjani taxi cabs as there was an infamous murder case involving their taxi

Yes your right Jaffna had many Austins and Morris's and still do if im not mistaken

Does anyone have knowledge and or pics of old Police cars in Ceylon/Sri Lanka from Colonial era to 1990's,I remember only seeing Peugeots 404 as the oldest cop car when i was a kid

Mr.'Sampath Gunasekera',

YOUR POST IS PERFECTLY CORRECT.

First of all must thank you for good old Morris Minor Car WEB links that give me, good old memories. Of that car.

There were two models of M/M in Ceylon. Side valve and Overhead valve. If my memory is correct there were no side valve model taxis of M/M in 1950s.

First taxi ( no metering ) car service was belongs to Late Mr. Bobby Arnolda he mostly served tourists who was traveling during the Colonial era with big American cars had fixed charges for the tours depending the distance mostly to Historic places in Ceylon. There was no city tours. Colombo Port touring car service was a Association Drivers was With white tunic collar jacket and some were dressed with cloth they all spoke very good English and had a good knowledge of Ceylon roads. Few other language translators they were tour guides. All of them served the tourist industry untill Aroplanes started arriving first with VC 10 Aircraft's owned by BOAC started in mid1960 Katunayake Air port was developed before they landed in Air force Air strip.

All private car owners used to hire their cars big and small with the driver for wedding hiears funerals and what ever event who did not have cars to travel. Most towns few cars were their on main bus central stands. Train terminatin stations as well as on the Rail way big towns.

Cars at that time was used for hires were hillman ford consul zeppher Waxhall 6 cylinder in up country Opel Austis few cars. Jafna had mostly Austins and Morris Minors. Easten coast major towns had mixed of cars

Ford zeppher for robires and illicet liquer transport with tanks specially build on them.

There were no passenger transport vans exept for VW vans went to Galle and Kandy for Rupees 3.50 per person 8 to 10 passengers in very quick time.Non stop in under 3 hours.

Later late Mr. V. E. R. De Mel started Quickshaws in early 1950s with 4CV 50 new cars Renault Taxi service with a meter ( Cannot remember the name) he imported the meters him self. He was a top Civil Servant during good old days, later late Honorable S.W. R. D. Bandaranayake PRIME MINISTER. Appointed Mr. V. E. R. De Mel to take over all Private Bus companies to inaugurate CTB.

Late Mr. V. E. R. De Mel I can say farher of the present day efordable metered Cab servises. Which is very populer and the Honrable Late Presedent J.R.JAYAWARDANA for interduction of threewheelers to our paridise Island once Ceylon was called Perl of the Indian ocen.

Thereafter few companies like to mention few names I can remember Ranjani Cabs, ABC Cabs, City Cabs, T.G.Hinniappuhamy cabs who started with a more spacious M/M Overhead valve car. With meters. If I can remember car Cost was Rupees:6500.00 with Rs:2000.00. Can finance a car no Leasing of Automobiles like today. Leasing Companies coming up like mushrooms today was not existing at that time. Only Finance companies.

During the last few days of government before free econamy was allowed few taxi owners who had owend registered to their names or companies taxies for cosidearable time were given with permits for 5 Siri Morris Minor cars and VW cars few went for VW most prefered Morris Minor Ithink that was little higher CC Capacity and they were not economical as good old day Morris Minors.

like to answer this type of incquaries from the forum members. Who like to know about our Automobile history.

This is a very long history what I can remember, this may be a history lesson to some members who callfor my posts. Before I kick the bucket. I will complite 69 years by end of this year. like to answer details of motoring history what I know. Whatever I have heard from relaible old people who can contrbute to this forum some are ded and very few are living who can inform relaible history.

Must be thank full for moderators opening this thread

I allways belive and inform others where ever I have traveled out side world.

HISTORY IS OUR PRIDE. Among Srilankans.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

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MasterDon    934

Wow! Awesome thread.Sylvi sir is on fire.

The Lancaster model shown in the picture was with the late great Mr.Jay Wanigasekera(now with son Riley)...was up for sale a couple of years back...

I wonder if Sylvi sir can enlighten us as to who brought down the american brand JEEP in the 50s and 60s..

As we're talking about films and stuff...Here's an MG A in the Lester James Peiris masterpiece 'Delowak Athara'.This car (2 sri 355) is with me now.It was bought on special order to a Mr.Maurice Roach and then bought by a Mr.Parakrama Dassanayeke and then by my dad...

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Mr.'Sampath Gunasekera',

YOUR POST IS PERFECTLY CORRECT.

First of all must thank you for good old Morris Minor Car WEB links that give me, good old memories. Of that car.

There were two models of M/M in Ceylon. Side valve and Overhead valve. If my memory is correct there were no side valve model taxis of M/M in 1950s.

First taxi ( no metering ) car service was belongs to Late Mr. Bobby Arnolda he mostly served tourists who was traveling during the Colonial era with big American cars had fixed charges for the tours depending the distance mostly to Historic places in Ceylon. There was no city tours. Colombo Port touring car service was a Association Drivers was With white tunic collar jacket and some were dressed with cloth they all spoke very good English and had a good knowledge of Ceylon roads. Few other language translators they were tour guides. All of them served the tourist industry untill Aroplanes started arriving first with VC 10 Aircraft's owned by BOAC started in mid1960 Katunayake Air port was developed before they landed in Air force Air strip.

All private car owners used to hire their cars big and small with the driver for wedding hiears funerals and what ever event who did not have cars to travel. Most towns few cars were their on main bus central stands. Train terminatin stations as well as on the Rail way big towns.

Cars at that time was used for hires were hillman ford consul zeppher Waxhall 6 cylinder in up country Opel Austis few cars. Jafna had mostly Austins and Morris Minors. Easten coast major towns had mixed of cars

Ford zeppher for robires and illicet liquer transport with tanks specially build on them.

There were no passenger transport vans exept for VW vans went to Galle and Kandy for Rupees 3.50 per person 8 to 10 passengers in very quick time.Non stop in under 3 hours.

Later late Mr. V. E. R. De Mel started Quickshaws in early 1950s with 4CV 50 new cars Renault Taxi service with a meter ( Cannot remember the name) he imported the meters him self. He was a top Civil Servant during good old days, later late Honorable S.W. R. D. Bandaranayake PRIME MINISTER. Appointed Mr. V. E. R. De Mel to take over all Private Bus companies to inaugurate CTB.

Late Mr. V. E. R. De Mel I can say farher of the present day efordable metered Cab servises. Which is very populer and the Honrable Late Presedent J.R.JAYAWARDANA for interduction of threewheelers to our paridise Island once Ceylon was called Perl of the Indian ocen.

Thereafter few companies like to mention few names I can remember Ranjani Cabs, ABC Cabs, City Cabs, T.G.Hinniappuhamy cabs who started with a more spacious M/M Overhead valve car. With meters. If I can remember car Cost was Rupees:6500.00 with Rs:2000.00. Can finance a car no Leasing of Automobiles like today. Leasing Companies coming up like mushrooms today was not existing at that time. Only Finance companies.

During the last few days of government before free econamy was allowed few taxi owners who had owend registered to their names or companies taxies for cosidearable time were given with permits for 5 Siri Morris Minor cars and VW cars few went for VW most prefered Morris Minor Ithink that was little higher CC Capacity and they were not economical as good old day Morris Minors.

like to answer this type of incquaries from the forum members. Who like to know about our Automobile history.

This is a very long history what I can remember, this may be a history lesson to some members who callfor my posts. Before I kick the bucket. I will complite 69 years by end of this year. like to answer details of motoring history what I know. Whatever I have heard from relaible old people who can contrbute to this forum some are ded and very few are living who can inform relaible history.

Must be thank full for moderators opening this thread

I allways belive and inform others where ever I have traveled out side world.

HISTORY IS OUR PRIDE. Among Srilankans.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Thanks Mr.Silvy for your great contribution.

You have a wonderful memory. :appl:

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Sylvi    192

Members,

ANSWER TO member carboy'2011. I can remember you are correct. ( Ranjani taxi cabs as there was an infamous murder case involving their taxi).

I did not want to inform that on the web not only that famous Turf Club 4 Lacks murder of driver at Thabowa jungle in Puttlam Anuradapura road was also a case involved a famous taxi service big car.

I just returned attending to some of my profession involved jobs out of Colombo in the afternoon, immediately after lunch I went out of Colombo will write one by one for all information wanted by the members.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

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carboy2011    32

Thank you Sylvi looking forward to the rest of your info when you can

Members,

ANSWER TO member carboy'2011. I can remember you are correct. ( Ranjani taxi cabs as there was an infamous murder case involving their taxi).

I did not want to inform that on the web not only that famous Turf Club 4 Lacks murder of driver at Thabowa jungle in Puttlam Anuradapura road was also a case involved a famous taxi service big car.

I just returned attending to some of my profession involved jobs out of Colombo in the afternoon, immediately after lunch I went out of Colombo will write one by one for all information wanted by the members.

Sylvi Wijesinghe.

Edited by carboy2011

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