Tuesday, 27 October 2020 18:55

Government to transform vintage car exports to a potential business

The government has decided to allow the export of vintage cars and classic motorcycles as there is a lucrative market overseas and since some local owners appear keen to make use of this opportunity, motor industry sources said.

The recent statement by State Minister of Transport Services Dilum Amunugama on allowing vintage and classic cars and motorcycles of antique value to be exported from Sri Lanka has suddenly turned a virtual hobby and a pastime of the rich to a potential business.

He has noted that there was a high demand in western countries for the Ceylon numbered old vehicles bearing old numbers such as C and EN.

The Classic Car Owners Club specifies that the car must have been built between 1940 and 1970 to consider it a classic car.

However, classic cars in Sri Lanka are also classed according to the registration number in the 1930s, until it was discontinued in 1950. A couple of letters, derived from Sri Lanka’s colonial name of Ceylon was used in the order CE, CL, CN, EY, EL and finally EN in front of numbers for registration. Such cars are also considered classics.

The State Ministry of Transport Service is ready to facilitate such export business ventures, the minister said adding that the Department of Motor Traffic has no proper procedure to export these vintage vehicles.

The country’s classic car culture is at risk of collapsing at present, State Minister Amunugama disclosed at a recent media conference pointing out that the aging population of owners, high cost of taxes and maintenance, and lack of interest among youth are key factors behind the current situation.

The restoration and export of these valuable vehicles can be a very profitable activity, several franchise motor dealers said.

Sri Lanka has a rich motoring heritage going back to the early 1900s. The high per capita income of Sri Lankans at that time made them buy the best and high end British, German and American brands and import them to Sri Lanka.I.

The concern of many vintage car owners that Sri Lanka’s motoring heritage will be lost with Minister Amunugama’s move is unreasonable given the fact that export is only a choice for the owner and many collectors will not do so, industry sources said.

On the flip side many cars owned by single individuals who are not passionate about collecting them could be a target for exporters. It is to be seen how many cars and motorcycles will fit into this potential market. It will certainly be many dozens, they added.

(LIN)

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