In common with a number of South American countries, Uruguay has a host of vintage and veteran motor cars still on the road -- and they are eagerly sought by enthusiasts from all over the world.
In common with a number of South American countries, Uruguay has a host of vintage and veteran motor cars still on the road -- and they are eagerly sought by enthusiasts from all over the world. Most are still in perfect running order.
In a country where a new saloon car can cost more than 10,000 U.S. dollars (4,760 pounds sterling) the motorways and streets abound with models that would be prize museum pieces elsewhere. They sell locally for between 1,000 to 2,000 dollars (476 - 747 pounds sterling).
1920s Model-T Fords and Chevrolets, 1930s Studebakers, Austins Packards and Ford Victorias daily compete for road space in the capital, Montevideo, and throughout the country. Even many of Uruguay's trucks and buses date back to the 1930s.
Many Uruguayan motorists have found that it is far cheaper to run an order car...even if they could afford the price of a new model. Highoctane fuel costs around two dollars (95 pence sterling) per gallon (14.6 litres) whereas older cars run easily on cheaper low-octane fuel at around 1,4 dollars a gallon (66 pence).
Car assembly plants in Uruguay, run under government regulations, are required to use at least 25 per cent Uruguayan-made materials. Stiff import tariffs on foreign makes also push up the price until in some areas the cost of a two-bedroom flat is less than that of a new car.
So the used-car market booms. Dealers say that the most popular models come from the 1940s and early 1950s... and they report an every-increasing flow of enquiries from overseas collectors willing to pay shipping costs and export duties to transport one of these old cars to Europe or the United States.
To cope with the inevitable wear and tear of up to fifty years of sold motoring, several "auto cemeteries" -- junk yards -- advertise and provide all kinds of spare parts ... just to keep Uruguay's prize collection of aged cars still rolling along the road.