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1 Sri 1 – Cadillac of Royal Ivory

If there’s one word to describe the car that carries the “1 Sri 1” license plate, it would be “pride”. A 1956 Cadillac DeVille, initially owned by a former prime minister of Sri Lanka, the late Sir John Kothalawala, is a beast by nature.

Sir John Kothalawala, bought this 1956 Cadillac off of a company called “Tucker’s Autodome” in 1956 for a whopping 17,000 rupees. The director of the said company, Mr. Cyril Gardener, presented it to the late Prime Minister at the Goldface Hotel, making him the proud owner of 1 Sri (ශ්‍)රී 1 Cadillac.

With his sparkling white exterior, the car proudly wears Chrome on its front grille and side skirts. To add the icing on the cake. This Cadillac is equipped with a super luxury interior with power shutters and polymers that could be operated from the inside.

This car isn’t just about the looks. Even though the 1956 Cadillac DeVille is usually a four cylinder vehicle, this particular car was equipped with an 8 cylinder engine giving it double the power of a regular DeVille. With an automatic gearbox and power steering. Driving this vehicle would have been an absolute treat.

This car also had some added functionality, such as a radio telephone. The technology of this vehicle was so beyond its time that this car was built to be eco friendly as this car wouldn’t emmit any fuel or gas into the outer environment.

The late Prime Minister owned this car up until his demise with many satisfying years of driving without a single accident and it was later purchased by a Mr. Vishwa Weerasooriya. Mr. Weerasooriya later gifted this beast of a car to the museum at Sir John Kothalawala University on April 1994, where it sits proudly in the present.

The car was washed and polished everyday. No one was allowed to use it. Sometimes Sir John took a chosen friend in the car. But it was really Sir John’s special car.

The driver Karthelis recalls that it was his friend Simon, who drove the ‘1 SRI 1’ for Sir John. What more could a Cadillac ask for?

Credit – SL 1960-1970 Classic Car Search, Wahana Loke, Dinusha Withanaarachchi

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Yvonne Toussaint

The Old Town Hall of Colombo