Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The rest of the Subie

The 1992-1998 Subaru Vivio remains popular in Cuba.
   THAT GIANT WING of a few posts back is bolted to a very small platform – a Subaru Vivio of the Japanese Kei microcar category.
   Subaru built the Vivio from 1992 to 1998, primarily for its home market and Europe. A good number of Vivios, however, found their way to Cuba, where they continue to command strong prices on sites such as
   The Vivio came in three- and five-door models with front- or all-wheel-drive and a 660-cc four-cylinder engine rated at 54 horsepower (a 64-h.p. turbo version was available in Japan). That's not much power, but apparently quite sufficient to propel a car with a listed weight – sans spoiler, no doubt – of just 645 kilograms.

Vivio came in five-door, above, and three-door models.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

DeSoto Diplomacy

Havana mystery-mobile – a Mercury, maybe?
   I was puzzled when I came across this chrome-toothed cruiser during one of my first trips to Cuba. The grille seemed vaguely Mercury, but the body lines, and especially the bump-out behind the back wheel, said Plymouth.
    Some type of amalgamation? Yes, I eventually learned, but one that came that way as a DeSoto Diplomat, an export model that was mainly a Plymouth with a front-end treatment from Chrysler's pricier DeSoto line.
  This one is a '55. It may be missing a few trim pieces, but hey  it still has all its teeth.

See also:

Governor de Soto, your taxi is here

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Governor de Soto, your taxi is here

Export-model DeSoto is based on a Plymouth – with an added bit of Dodge.
   HERNANDO DE SOTO was appointed governor of Cuba in 1538 but spent just 11 months on the island before leading his expedition into what now is the United States, where he hoped to find gold and instead would encounter hostile natives and eventually the illness – recorded only as "a fever" – to which he would succumb.
   But de Soto's name lives on in Cuba. His image, too, if the stylized conquistador in the logo of the Chrysler DeSoto (sometimes De Soto) bears any likeness to the Spanish explorer.

Both DeSoto and Plymouth emblems were applied at the factory.

    DeSoto was a separate line for Chrysler from 1928 to 1961, generally positioned above its mainstream brands but a notch or two below its luxury divisions. For much of that period the Detroit automaker also produced an export-model DeSoto, based on cars from Plymouth or Dodge and usually called the Diplomat.
   Most of Cuba's DeSotos are of the export variety, like this 1948 sedan from the government's Gran Car fleet of tourist-pleasing taxis. It bears both DeSoto and Plymouth badges – it came that way – but even without them, its Plymouth heritage shows through in the blocky fenders and other conservative lines.

Gran Car taxi fleet ferries visitors in eye-catching classics.
  The waterfall grille, however, offers at least a nod to its more stylish home-market cousin, even if the signal lights to each side came from the Dodge parts bin. (Chrysler was ever-inventive in its configurations.)
  The export DeSoto was also sold in Australia, Europe, Mexico and South America, though few will remain in those markets. On the island once governed by its namesake, however, it still rules the roads.

See also: 

Hemmings: Made for export – 1947 De Soto

Allpar: The DeSoto Diplomat