Myanmar’s own Henry Ford
AFTER reading an article in a newspaper in 2013 about cars powered by motorcycle engines in India, 33-yearold inventor U Zaw Myo Oo in Meiktila, Mandalay Region, was inspired to build a tangerine-coloured sports car.
Within a year, U Zaw Myo Oo had successfully built his first car powered by a motorcycle engine. He became something of a sensation on the internet with his second car, which he used for his own wedding. He said he was still able to make his cars even though the government decided in 2015 to crack down on the assembly of vehicles in industrial zones.
“I just want to do this. I’d always wanted to come up with new designs and new ideas, so I produced my third car,” he said.
The self-taught inventor’s first car, which was two metres long, a metre wide and weighed around 530 kilograms, was powered by a 110cc motorcycle engine.
His second had a 150cc engine, and weighed 220kg, while his third has a 250cc engine and weigh 530kg.
He said he has great faith in the safety and reliability of the cars.
“I included a lot of things in my latest car. I installed an MP3 player and an air-conditioning system. This bad boy goes 70 kilometres per hour and has a range of 89km using 3.8 litres of fuel. I used metal for the front and back bumpers instead of fibreglass so this increased the weight and brought down the top speed. “It has a left-hand drive and a manual transmission with seven gears. In fifth gear, the car can get up to 60kph. The seventh gear is reverse,” he said.
“I invented it, from the first sketch to the finished product. It cost me K1.6 million for the materials, even though some of the parts, such as the steering wheel and the tyres, are recycled.”
U Zaw Myo Oo said he started learning machining techniques from his father when he was in the fifth grade, adding that his wife encourages him because she thinks like he does. His wife even helps on technical issues because she studied mechanical engineering at a government technical institute.
He also appears to have a passion for creating mechanical things other than cars. He has come up with brickmaking machines, mixers, building designs, and electronics, among other things, by watching instructional videos on the internet.
“I’m very pleased with my creations. I was especially happy when I got married in my second car. Some people marry on planes or ships in other countries, but I managed to get married in a car I built. The picture of that will hang on the wall of my living room for my grandchildren to see,” he said.
“I want the cars to be manufactured here. There are people who would like to buy them. The current one is really popular. People want a car at an affordable price instead of motorcycles. I want to sell them, just like the Tata Nano affordable car (made in India),” he said.
His latest set of wheels took seven months to build, and he says about 50 people have asked him about buying it, several saying they would be proud to drive a car made in Myanmar. He says some of those interested in his car wanted to order one with an engine made in Thailand.
“Since I have experience now, it would only take around three months to build another if I have everything I need. It would be wonderful if I could make this a reality, but it would require official approval, land, a factory, tooling, manpower and funding. I’m open to the idea of a partnership with the government or a private business,” he said.
U Zaw Myo Oo said he hopes that his son will become a civil servant, as the mechanical profession is very taxing, but he will support his son no matter what he decides to be.
The budding Henry Ford is now making arrangements to show his cars at an expo in Mandalay and will also participate in a craftsmanship expo held with American support.
U Zaw Myo Oo shows the interior of the car he built.