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Myanmar: The old Chevrolet and Mazda trucks from Burma

Mazda B360 taxi in Mandalay, MyanmarMazda B360 taxi in Mandalay, Myanmar. Picture by klepl, all rights reserved.

* See the Full article by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Ramón Rivera from Chile *

Today I thought I would share with you some extracts of a great article written by one of our readers, Ramón Rivera.  Similarly to a post I wrote a couple of years ago about Cuba (Cuba: Lada, Hyundai, Geely and vintage Americans dominate), it shows how the cars in circulation in Myanmar (aka Burma) are a testimony of the last 50 years history of the country. You can check out Ramón‘s original article here.

Mazda Pathfinder BurmaMazda Pathfinder XV-1. Picture by break_away1112, all rights reserved.

As you know from the few posts I wrote about Myanmar, this market was up until about a year ago very closed and extremely difficult to read as far as new cars were concerned because they were very few. It is now opening up with the Chery QQ a common sight in Yangon… However decades of military dictatorship and closed borders will take a while to disappear and the traffic is the whole of Myanmar reveals some interesting ties the automobile industry used to have with the outside world…

Chevrolet Bus in MyanmarChevrolet bus. Picture by prweb.com, all rights reserved.

First and foremost, the hordes of World War II trucks repurposed as buses, some of them in circulation for the last 70 years without interruption! Due to be put down and replaced soon, the legendary Chevrolet buses will survive as luxurious tourist coaches…

Mazda K360 MyanmarMazda K360 taxi in Mandalay, Burma. Picture by duplisea, all rights reserved.

But the most striking occurence on Burma’s roads and specifically in Mandalay in the centre of the country are the mini Mazda trucks used as taxis. You can still find a few Mazda K360 still in service, even though this model was originally launched in 1959 and killed in 1971…

Mazda B360 BurmaMazda B360. Picture by photasia, all rights reserved.

The most popular taxi in Mandalay is still the Mazda B360, painted a very distinctive blue. The B360 was originally launched in 1961 in Japan and killed there in 1967, however its local assembly in Burma kick started 5 years later in 1972 to only stop in the mid-nineties!! After economic sanctions were imposed to the country in 1988, the factory could not import any parts from Japan anymore and had to continue 100% local production under the Myanmar Automobile and Diesel Engine Industries (MADI) name.

Mazda Pathfinder Burma1Mazda Pathfinder XV-1. Picture by myanmartravelessentials, all rights reserved.

Another very little-known Mazda still gracing Burma’s roads nowadays in spite of its old age is the Mazda Pathfinder XV-1, which based on my research was only produced in Burma (not even in Japan) for the military in 1972, but its robustness has meant it can still be seen in circulation today. Impressive.

Previous post: Myanmar 2013: Now with exclusive photo album!

See the Full article below featuring a video about the Chevrolet buses.

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