Everything else.. Uniquely Sri Lankan Nicknames for Vehicles

Uniquely Sri Lankan Nicknames for Vehicles

2021 Dec 2

I’m sure you’ve all experienced road-rage of epic proportions only to be calmed down by some profound three-wheeler wisdom while you were stuck in traffic. But, what if I tell you that back in the day, before the admittedly hilarious three-wheeler quotes, vehicle nicknames were what ran supreme on the streets? And their origin stories are definitely worth taking a second look at, because as you might expect, some of them make for some great comedic opportunities. So, let’s d(r)ive right in!

  1. Doctor Sunny

As you can likely already tell from the name, the Doctor Sunny Model aka the Nissan Sunny FB13 was all the rage among doctors here in Sri Lanka. These vehicles were famous for being imported in crazy high numbers by doctors through their duty free permits. It’s always Sunny in Sri Lanka alright!

2. Palath Sabha model

The Pajero 86 Model, more commonly known as the Palath Sabha Model, is another humorous take on the vehicle’s main audience. This first generation Pajero Model was a favourite among Provincial Council ministers from the moment it was first brought to Sri Lanka.

3. Kichi Kichi Delica

Nowadays, most vehicles are built with precision and rarely come with irreversible flaws. But, when the Mitsubishi Delica was released to the market, the people who opted to buy this model weren’t so lucky. Leave it to Sri Lankans to turn this flaw into an affectionate nickname. Called the ‘Kichi Kichi’ van after the unexplained squeaky noise it made when travelling uphill, the unfixable sound soon became synonymous with this model.

4. Dolphin

Personally, I fail to see any sort of resemblance between the adorable sea mammal and the Gen 4 Toyota Hiace. But, this seems to be one of the more well-known vehicle nicknames here in Sri Lanka. Maybe it’ll make more sense if you squint really hard?

5. Thapal 90

The Honda C90 was Sri Lanka’s very own speedy mail vehicle. Aptly given the moniker Thapal 90, these little red bikes handled many of the postal deliveries all over the country.

6. Malaria Model

A pretty ominous sounding name for just a regular old Land Rover, huh? After the gradual increase in malaria incidence in Sri Lanka called for more direct action against those pesky mosquitoes, the humble Land Rover was used as the main mode for repellent spraying.

7. Maduruwa

Keeping with the mosquito theme we have going on, it’s time to talk mopeds. You all probably have your own moped horror stories, regardless of whether you own one or not. This is because of their uncanny ability to sneak into places they don’t belong, especially during rush hour. It makes sense that they’d be named after an insect with similar tendencies. Mopeds equal maduru, have fun spotting the differences.

8. Rukmani Devi Model

This nickname’s origin story is a lot heavier compared to the rest of the vehicles we’ve talked about. Rukmani Devi was a household name in Sri Lanka, renowned for her beautiful singing voice and the iconic roles she played in local cinema. The Toyota Hiace 79 Model is known as the Rukmani Model, because it was what she was travelling in before her tragic accident.

9. The Bus Nicknames

Now, there are a LOT of buses here in Sri Lanka. And when I say a LOT, I mean it. You can probably expect a copious amount of nicknames for these buses. So, to spare you from feeling like your brain’s been overcrowded by a sudden influx of information, here are some of the most memorable ones.

The Yaka Bus was a nickname used to describe the Leyland Tiger bus, which was the model of bus used by the SLTB in the 1970s. With a separate compartment for its driver, the front face of this vehicle was actually eerie and bore a strange resemblance to Sri Lankan yaka masks.

The Paan Bagey was another nickname for SLTB buses used back in the day. Its origins are a little bit ambiguous, but most would agree that it came from the bread shape of these buses and the smaller size.

There you have it! A whole bunch of weird Sri Lanka vehicle nicknames to think about when you’re on the road. Oh well, at least they make for a good laugh. Let’s keep ‘em coming now, shall we? And do let us know in the comments if we’ve missed any interesting nicknames!