The Classic Takeover | Sri Lanka Classics 2023
The open road beckoned and a rally of classic cars followed.
Picture 13 classic cars shipped to Sri Lanka from around the world including Austria, Scotland and New Zealand, zipping around the Central Highlands and the southern Galle Road for 15 days. I can almost hear the rumble of the engines. The surprised and shocked appearances on the faces of our people.
The Sri Lankan Classics 2023 took place in January, in partnership with Destination Rally together with Authencities (Pvt) Ltd and explored our island from city to city. From a Rolls Royce Silvercloud built in 1963 traversing across Waikkal to a Bentley Tourer built in 1926 navigating the winding roads of Nuwara Eliya, there was no shortage of thrill, adventure, and pure joy.
The days often began in the early hours of the morning and typically ended toward mid-afternoon. This rally wasn’t just about driving around in cars so chic, but also focused on experiencing the hidden wonders of our island – from the diverse food and culture, natural landscapes and biodiversity, and of course its people.
I was lucky enough to see all the cars at the tailend of their journeys in both Yala and Weligama. Like I said before, the rumble of the engines is what comes to mind first. It was a blazing hot day in Yala and the cars were expected to arrive around noon. The team at Wild Coast Tented Lodge were in the ready, already designated parking spots for the arrivals and refreshments at hand. A blaring toot from the distance and a radio alert signalled the approach, and one by one, some a good hour’s distance, the classics arrived.
I stood in awe watching the entrance. Cars so sleek and polished even amidst the dusty and dry terrain of the Ruhunu landscape. A bright and shiny red Lotus Elan from 1967. A sleek Mercedes 280SL from 1970 driven by Lord Laidlaw and his Lady. A silver Aston Martin DB6 MK2 from 1970 that unfortunately needed a quick tire exchange.
The teams were in high spirits; a constant symphony of banter, laughter and warm smiles. It didn’t look like the rugged roads had caused a dent in their psyches. It was the same when I experienced them arriving at Cape Weligama just two days later. They seemed in awe and complete appreciation of our little island and mentioned so on multiple occasions. They’d had leisurely walks, morning cruises and lively chats with some great story-tellers and also spent some time engaging in human welfare activities along the way.
The rally covered a total mileage of over 1,700 kms, visiting the ancient ruins and plains of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the golden coast of Trincomalee and finally the most populous city of Colombo.
“And just like that, we’re on our way to everywhere.”
– Emery Lord, Open Road Summer.