PIN this for later!
Uruguay has long held the reputation as a paradise for classic old car enthusiasts. Not that long ago European dealers in these collectors items, were known to source some of their stock in Uruguay. We’ve learned that there are now some restrictions in place regarding the export of historic vehicles.
Nevertheless, driving around Uruguay you can still spot countless old vehicles on the roads. The majority date back to the 60s and 70s, but some are much older. You could compare Uruguay’s vehicle stock with Cuba’s famous old colourful automobiles, except that you find more European than American classics.
You do see some old US monsters but the larger number of family vehicles are European made brands like the
- English Austin, Rover, and Ford
- French Peugeot, Citroen, and Renault
- Italian Fiat
and all major German marques:
- Volkswagen, Opel, Mercedes,
- and the longtime discontinued DKW.
This old FORD truck is probably the oldest vehicle we have spotted on the roads of Uruguay. In other countries this would be locked away in a climatised collector’s garage.
However, when it comes to pick-up trucks, the American brands dominate the picture. You see plenty of old Ford, Chevrolet, and some Fargo pick-ups of various ages. Many are still in use for a small business, and only a few are lovingly restored as collectors’ items. With new trucks this market has been taken over by the Japanese and Volkswagen with their (Argentinean made) Amorak.
This old FORD truck still earns its keep for a small freight (fletes) business
Not everyone needs a large ¾ ton pick-up with a thirsty V6 or V8, and a curious thing I noticed in Uruguay were small utilities (that’s what we call them in Australia, or ‘ute’, for short) from the 70s. A normal sedan was converted to a shorter cab and a smallish load tray added on the back. You see old Renault 4 conversions, Opel Kadett, and some larger sedans like Peugeot 403 and 404 models.
You see some weird pick-up conversions in Uruguay. Top: a Opel Kadett from Germany, which usually looks like the one at the bottom right. The cabin was shortened and the rear converted into a load tray. Bottom left: a similar conversion on an old FORD 17M (also of German origin).
I got the impression that these were actually converted in Uruguay because I’ve never seen them elsewhere. Nowadays utes made in Brazil fill this gap. Volkswagen Saveiro , Fiat Strada Working , and Chevrolet Montana all offer such vehicles, and they are still very popular…
Old Jeeps are also popular in some parts of Uruguay. Top left: a classic US army jeep. Top right: a classic Willy’s jeep with pickup tray in very good condition. The vehicle at the bottom is called ‘Indio’; I can’t find much about this other than that it is an ‘Uruguayan built car from the seventies’.
Excuse me for adding so many photos of Citroën Méharis . Many years ago this was one vehicle I really would have loved to own. Actually, in and around our home town, which is close to the beach, it would still be perfect: a no-frills beach car, fibre glass body (no worries if you throw a surf board, wetsuit and towel, all wet with salt water, in the back – the car won’t rust!), reliable Citroën 2CV technology with a simple 2-cylinder engine.
This is one of my favourite vehicles (I always wanted to have one) – hence so many photos. This is a Citroen MEHARI based on a 2CV. It has a robust fibreglass body – one reason you see them so often near the beach in Uruguay. They don’t rust from above.
During our stay I certainly didn’t photograph every vehicle I came across, but I still managed to come up with a considerable collection of classic cars to share here. One thing that surprised me: FORD is the single brand I took the most pictures of. Although we certainly saw more old Volkswagen Beetles and Renault 4s, but these two models were just too ‘common’…
We spotted this beautiful English Austin pick-up truck when walking the streets of Montevideo.
Fancy paint job on this classic Chevrolet pick-up truck spotted in Colonia.
One of the old FORD trucks still in daily use. It had an almost new box on the back and and added ‘swan’ hood ornament.
Where ever we visited in Uruguay we always noticed lots of old American pick-up trucks in various states of (dis-)repair. All these were still in use, except the first one top left, which I noticed on a used vehicle sales yard.
They are actually cute but we liked to make fun of the tiny Fiat 600 (a big brother of the Fiat 500). In the top right a Peugeot 504 pick-up; this used to be a popular vehicle in France and in Africa (almost a predecessor of the Toyota Hilux).
This rusty FORD “Deluxe” was waiting for a buyer in a sales yard. Worth restoring?
A little beaten up but still in daily use: an Austin panel van spotted driving around in 25 de Agosto.
An old English Ford sedan for sale in Jose Ignacio
Old Volkswagen vehicles can be found everywhere in Uruguay. The T1 Kombi tray-back was in VW workshop. We spotted the green VW Beetle in a residential street of Maldonado. The colourful hippie Kombi advertised a restaurant in Montevideo. The nice blue Beetle was parked in a neighbourhood of Montevideo.
You see quite a few rare old Mercedes on the roads of Uruguay. Top: a 70s S-class Coupe and a late 70s 380 SL Hardtop Coupe. Both are certainly worth in excess of $20,000. Bottom row are South American Chevrolet cars, same body (with different lights and grills) as the German Opel Rekord of the mid 70s.
We spotted this classic Mercedes on our first trip in Uruguay. I guess it’s a late 50s 220 model.
Somehow classic cars still featured hood ornaments with some character. Now they are banned because of the injuries they can cause to pedestrians.
A beautiful classic FORD wagon – spotted in Concordia.
Many of the classic cars on the roads in Uruguay are rather rusty but still been driven daily.
An old beauty waiting for her rescue. I can’t say what sort of car this is…
Are you like me and notice rare or classic vehicles when walking or driving through a town?
Or are you more like Yasha – who can’t give a …?
Tell us in the ‘comments’ below!