Used Myanmar Cars, Willys Jeep and some Burmese Vehicles

Used Myanmar Car, Willys Jeep and some Burmese Vehicles

are often a many hand down Toyota or an old Willys, they might be old, a little rotten, often a used Toyota auto with plenty of rust and broken shock absorbers but it’s a local auto, still going strong. Sometimes it is difficult to determine, do I see moving junk, a real auto or what. This is especially true with with taxis in Yangon which are mainly used Toyotas.

They are mostly rotten Japanese junk which escaped the shredder, after they are exported to Burma, litter the roads of the country and poison the air. This is changing slowly since more and more parts from China enter the country and this virtually then Chinese vehicles are assembled locally, also parts from Thailand are used.

Sometimes a new auto

is visible but the junk is the normality. There is a vehicle which has lost half of the floor, there are others which are just pulled together by wires and plastic tapes, no yoke, Burmese taxis are probably the worst rotten in the world. Remains from the second world war are still visible now mixed with old used Toyotas, junk which can hardly been called a auto, coming together in the traffic. The thing is the vehicles from right after the WW 2 means are usually in better conditions than the Japanese junk from maybe 2 or 3 decades ago, its interesting to see mostly white Toyotas. The country is somehow a graveyard for used Toyotas imported from Japan, there are many and that’s a cheap Burmese car.

Someone told me the other day that a lot of the newer Japanese vehicles are actually stolen by Japanese gangs and sold to Burma for a relatively low price. Since the authorities have no possibility to


Willys jeep
Jeep half genuine with local flavor


check the data at import its a good deal for some Japanese gangsA other very common situation is to play cars, means buy a one and wait until there are some changes in the import tax, when there are changes, usually the tax climbs, the sales prices for units already in the country also climbs since import taxes are very high.


Myanmar used car
Myanmar used car like this old Mercedes


Sometimes the people use a legal loophole by importing a used car for taxi purpose, they get a red number and taxes and duties are very low. When they did a new generation upgrade on taxis in Singapore some times ago most of the age old junk from Singapore ended up in Yangon and morphed into a local vehicle they move on rotten roads in Burma and are often only held together by some wire and scotch tape, other are more tough. Another problem with local taxis is that they hardly get ever cleaned often insects, ants etc. attack the pax. But slowly vehicles are manufactured  in the country especially the SUV type as you can see in pictures here. Local cars will replace them sooner or later or maybe not since parts are imported from Thailand and China and assembled locally, the result are exotic refurbished vehicles, usually without 4WD. But those are real basic and tough just the right vehicle to roam the rotten roads of the country.


The Myanmar used Car Market


Burmese cars

Burma Auto is often a Jeep, they are popular


is dominated by Toyotas and in resent days by homemade simple four-wheeler, this is genuine Japanese vehicles country and it is better to concentrate on a common model since the parts are difficult to get in the country, just imagine the size of the country and the very rudimentary transport system. But there are plenty of opportunities to find a unit someone wishes within his budget.

Since about 1990 this market is growing rapidly across Burma since the rising of the individual people after the communist put area, it was more or less the same as in Eastern Europe. Today there are many alternative among different brands but as indicated before Toyota is by far the number one. The demand for used cars is increasing every

old Toyota treasures
Old Toyota treasures at Myanmar auto

vintage toyota
Vintage Toyota still going strong

year around 20% this has not slowed down even after they started to build their own style cars with imported parts from China and Thailand. There is hardly a warranty on a local vehicle since there are no dealerships from the big manufactures everyone is on his or her own.

Even most people won’t have any insurance this is one of the reason why the state won’t allow any foreign vehicles with a non Burmese license plate into the country.

Value and quality are prominent factors when buying a Myanmar car as it is the same everywhere, probably for the present it is a good option to buy one of these homemade stuff which are still quite expensive since the authorities put heavy taxes on them.

Toyota second hand car
Toyota second hand car is very populat

Some old Toyota treasures

can be found at the Burmese cars markets for good prices or take an old Jaguar maybe from the 70 ties which waits for some resurrection behind a Yangon colonial style house covered with some plastic. Plenty of other autos that have escaped the jaws of the Japanese salvage yard are around, real classics are out there.

Funny thing with this Japanese stuff is they are all manufactured for left hand driving, but the people don’t drive at the wrong side of the road, like Japanese, English and Thai, among others, the drive at the right side. Actually in Thailand they drive on both sides just as the persons mood is.

In Thailand many driver have also a small TV set mounted at the dashboard just behind the steering wheel. Since many Thai people are very strong and clever they watch TV or video with one eye and use the other eye to watch the road, this is no yoke.


old authentic cars
Old authentic cars from WW2


Old authentic cars and jeeps

A trip to this country is what you need, there is probably no country on the globe where  so many old and rotten junk litter the road, in almost every taxi you have to watch the feet do not fall through most taxis are totally rusted.

There are other really ancient but very exotic Burmese cars from the Second World War. The U.S. army supplied lots of Willys, SUV’s and trucks which were thankfully accepted, a new decoration was applied, some paint was used and these great exotic Willys jeep the result. These kinds of jeeps still roam the streets of Yangon and elsewhere.

Willys Jeep
Willys are still often used
at Thinghyan
New style SUV during water festival


These old Burmese cars, exotic vehicles, usually about 70 years old but compared to a Toyota pick up, sedan or SUV and other Japanese vehicles they still make a good image.

This are not restored autos, they were just looked after orderly, they usually don’t have any problems with steering, braking, or anything which needs attention, its really amazing to see this after such a long time period and in such a difficult environ and climate.

A old car and a WW 2 jeep somehow remind to the vehicles of the 1950is which still today move on the streets of Havana in Cuba also the historic background show some similarities, now a new style homegrown is moving in

A Willys jeep is a tough thing,

the original ones from WW2 are still going strong and working hard, from time to time shock absorbers have to be replaced and that’s it usually. In resent years old Willys look-alike have been assembled locally with parts from China and Thailand, they look a bit basic but they are cheap and they work, see picture left.

Willys jeep
Willys jeep on a evening ride in Yangon


A old vehicle, used Toyotas and Chinese cars are hot second hand items in the country. There are some local manufacturer such as Suzuki but they only screw parts together. Also Chinese cars are locally assembled, those also have some parts from Thailand installed. A alternative would be a old jeep or other second hand car, they are ideal for this rough environment and not really cheap cars they are heavy taxed but a good choice at the Myanmar car market.


A old jeep, SUV’s and a second hand car for sale

are not in bad condition, they make some noise and blow black smoke but they don’t look to bad, ok it need some positive thinking. There are also still parts and all kind of restoration items for them. Some parts are still used on a current auto but now the parts are mainly coming in from Thailand and China.

Chinese vehicles gain market share only very slowly, some time ago a organization purchased about 500 trucks from there and about 200 were cannibalized after they completely broke down within 6 month. That’s the way they do it China, I guess they have a lot to learn from the “decadent” western people.

Jeeps are strong and reliable. Equipped with wooden benches on each side and 5 stools in the aisle, these Burmese cars can seat 22 including the driver and two cabin passengers. Plus the spare guy or conductor and 3 passengers on the running-board, the weight of the people alone is by far more than the stipulated payload. This does not include the sometimes heavy baggage on the roof and extra passengers seated on top, a common occurrence on out-of-town routes. Anyway if there is not enough money under the bed (no banks except the state bank survived the last bank crash) take a bicycle rickshaw as a substitution for a auto or a horse coach this are the right countryside Burmese cars.

old auto carcasses
Ancient Burmese cars at Yangon


Many old Burmese cars

are still moving on the roads, it’s really amazing. Sometimes it gets dangerous to others when brakes etc. won’t work anymore. It’s also not so nice when the old junk have a trail of poisonous smoke behind them since this if plain poison for other people.

There are plenty of old autos around and many wish to make them look like a not so old car? It is somehow possible, takes some effort and time. It wont look exactly like a new one but maybe still impressive. Do some car grooming not only when you want to sell,making it looking nicer increases the chance to get more money for it. Check first how is the paint and tires, the interior also needs some renovation because it clearly shows how the owner look after his four wheeler. Use some silicon spray to make the interior shiny again and have it smelled just like new.

But one thing always amazes my with, I went to the country now since around 20 years and stay several month in the country every year but I never saw one road accident, how come? The other end of this amazing situation is, I also stay several month of the year in Thailand and see a heavy accident at least 3 times per week there. Thailand has a much higher density but within the big cities let’s say Bangkok and Yangon there is relatively not much difference in the density.

used toyota pick up
During Thingyan with used Toyotas


A old jeep and Myanmar cars

actually vintage autos need some passion. Because of the isolation since WW2 lots of things are still hidden. Owners of old four wheeler are also very eager to restore and repair to get them moving. A close look through the Windermere District in Yangonwill find plenty of old, mostly English and German units starting from around after WW2, which are still going strong, no wonder the guys love Johnny Walker whisky.

They don’t make much difference if its restoration and rebuilding, they auto should look good, original and move.  Parts and mechanical components always are somehow original since there are no other sources.  There is a market for old Burmese car parts and using those is common, that’s even for engine parts.

Even as most owner of old autos have no extensive knowledge they are quite capable to handle putting things together, do repair and restoration. When there is no way further it is always possible to contact a repair shop who can handle everything, they even have the right tooling machinery to copy parts.

For Burmese cars interiors are several shops in downtown Yangon, the handle upholstery, leather, plastic and woodworks.  These vintage cars have a substantial value for the owner considering the time and passion they put into handling the vehicle and keep it in shape.

Naturally it’s impossible to find original paint after so many years but there are several Japanese companies selling all kind of paints and after some mixing and trying the right color can be found. To handle and repair this old vehicles needs passion it needs patience and money plus some love for these vehicles since vintage restoration and repairs is not easy.


This “home made” Willys jeep type

are probably good solutions for the locals, they are simple, strong and easy to maintain just the right stuff for a tough environ. Imagine a BMW or Mercedes which brakes down here, who can make this stuff fit again, it needs weeks to wait for spare parts.

Even in Thailand where I had a Honda CRV SUV fully manufactured in Thailand it is always a problem to get spare parts from Honda in Bangkok it usually takes several days or weeks until even simple parts arrive in the province from Bangkok.

Now if such part things are already difficult in neighboring Thailand imagine what would happen in Burma, unthinkable ! Japanese pick-up trucks with a 1 ton payload capacity are popular for passenger transport throughout the country. the big cities such as Yangon and Mandalay. Mr. Gore and all the other hypocrites of the so called “green movement” would find their paradise here, here they could live a clean life without air pollution (outside the big cities), a nice horse coach ect. is just the right stuff for a staunch environmentalist, or ?

Second hand cars blow plenty of dirt into the air, but this is compensated, so need to worry about co2 emissions because of electricity generation since there is no electricity at most of the time. What a romantic life would this be for this people ‘ They could light their candles in the evening and pray for enlightenment and jump on the horse or donkey.

I bet they would get converted to a normal life very quick and praise the four wheeler, the electricity and never would come back to the simple life. But people who get lots of money from the western government, having not much real work aside of some useless bla bla, are difficult to convince. Since what is better as having a good life financed by western taxpayers money. This kind of open units are ideal for the country, its built for the rough environ, during monsoon a textile top is easy to install and they are the ideal vehicle for the greatest festival, the water festival or Thingyan as pictured right.

This is Toyota country, almost 80% cars on the roads are Toyotas, interestingly most in white colors and practically all imported as second hand units. But slowly the locally made jeeps copies and other car from China gain ground. Actually Chinese cars have a very bad reputation most of them work about two year after you can throw them away, unfortunately the Chinese manufacturer try to offload the junk they cant sell elsewhere to the neighboring countries.

Burmese cars

A used old car one from Japan is the normality in the country, they are mostly Toyotas, slowly the term auto gets a new meaning since several business people have set up small manufacturing plants and assembling jeep type autos together with imported parts from China and Thailand.

As it can be seen at the used cars pictures here the country has a large pool of old classics, those are usually German and English from shortly after the second world war, check the pictures. A present day auto is almost always a used one and they sometimes look like real moving junk.

What else comes into your mind when thinking about using a four wheeler in an exotic destination. Its car rental or what else’ The suggestion is take a unit with a driver to get around. If you rent a car the result will be almost for sure disastrous, the main problem is that all signs outside Yangon and Mandalay are in native language only and how to ask anyone for direction when almost nobody speak English in the countryside. You wont find a budget car rent anyway, means its usually also more economical to take a private one and driver.

To find one ask someone in the hotel where you are staying almost everyone knows someone who has a car and could go on a ride with you and don’t worry they go where you want and the hotels everywhere are tuned for accommodation for a driver, its up to the driver to handle this you pay a lump sum, the price is usually about $ 50,- to 60,- per day, they also rent SUV’s. This is also very attractive for you since you don’t need to focus on driving you can have a look around, on top of it drivers usually are very careful, I am partially in since more than 20 years now and I never saw one road accident.

No need for high end configurations, its not possible to drive fast anyway since the roads are quite bad with plenty of bumps and holes. This self made Willys jeeps are very usable for bad roads since they are relatively high over ground but most of the local assembled jeeps have no 4weel drive, here is a Burma SUV.

Myanmar car production

the first where special designed Suzuki with a big cabin, actually this cars even were more advanced than European stuff at that time in terms of space available for passengers. After this a very new auto trend broke out, body parts were imported from Thailand and China. Such as fixed axels, leaf springs, gear, seats and other parts imported (often smuggled in from Thailand) and some other parts plus an engine from China. There was a new one in Willys jeep style rolling out from the manufacturing facility in Shan State. This half genuine car comes in form of a WW 2 jeep. Most of the times without door, only with some textile material covering the sides, just as the famous US WW2 jeeps, a genuine is pictured left.

Actually even today there are plenty of WW 2 jeeps, trucks and SUV’s on the roads. Just have a look to this romantic SUV above, isn’t is really nice ‘  No yoke I really think this jeep style has a certain beauty appeal, I guess its a GMC