Monday, May 2, 2016

Fast & Furious 8: A classic battle

   WE ALREADY know the names of the Hollywood stars who will appear in Fast & Furious 8. Now, thanks to videos emerging from filming of the action movie in Cuba, we can identify two of their Havana automotive co-stars.
  One is a 1956 Ford Customline Tudor. With black paintwork and red rims, it resembles the Ford driven by "Piti" in the Havana Motor Club film documentary, but that car is a more upscale Fairlane Victoria hardtop.
   The other, missing fenders, hood and even doors, is harder to peg, but close inspection reveals it as a 1949-51 Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe.
  There appear to be some motorcycles, too. But primarily, this looks to be Ford versus Chevy.
  We also see that the producers prepared two copies of each car for the filming. That's standard practice for a big-budget undertaking, of course, but especially prudent in a country where you always want to have a spare.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rápido y Furioso in Havana

Ready for a role? A 1953 Ford sedan.
   MAJOR LAZER, Barack Obama, the Rolling Stones and now a film crew for the latest Fast & Furious movie – Cuba's capital is having quite the year.
   Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez are in Havana and Charlize Theron is expected to arrive soon to shoot the Cuban segment of Fast & Furious 8, which also will be set in New York and the great street-racing nation of Iceland.
   How Cuba will figure into the storyline won't be known until the movie is released in 2017. Judging by earlier instalments of the enormously successful Fast & Furious series, however, we can safely predict that the sequence will include tire smoke, the sound of high-revving engines and various infractions of the laws of 
   And, of course, old cars. According to the Havana Times, the producers were in Cuba in late 2015 seeking 1950s American cars for potential use in the movie.
   We can be reasonably sure they found some.

In Havana, a 1958 Dodge awaits discovery.
Malecón promenade is said to be among the filming locations.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A safe – or at least, not so unsafe – spot for a scooter

Tranquil route skirts the Sierra Maestra mountains east of Santiago.
    YES, I RODE a scooter in Cuba again.
   And yes, a year ago I warned that this could be dangerous in a country of poor roads and potentially serious consequences should you be in an accident, including not being allowed to leave until a slow-moving investigation is completed. Similar warnings exist for scooter and moped rentals in Bermuda, Thailand and many other tourist destinations.
   Again, my excuse is that the roads I was on – east of Santiago, but not as far as Guantá
namo Bay – were largely empty but for the occasional horse cart or herd of goats.
   And while this year's Orbit II scooter from the Sanyang Motor Co. ran like a sweetheart, a happy contrast to the gummed-up machine I rode last year, its wee 50-cc gas engine still limited my top speed to "relaxed."

Horse carts are more common than cars.
   I would have liked to have pressed on toward Guantánamo, but I'm told that I would have been turned back at a police checkpoint, and probably not in a cheerful way.
   And I didn't ride in Santiago. I've seen the way they drive in Cuba's second-largest city. I'd be safer trying to break in to Guantá

Relaxed ride: 50-cc SYM Orbit II, from Taiwan's Sanyang Motor Co.

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