Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Gullwing for the gullible


   THE STORY OF Cuba's decaying old Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe lives on. For the latest chapter, we can thank a New Hampshire prankster who last week listed the Gullwing for sale on Craiglist.
   Under the heading "Attention scrappers," the purported vendor wrote: "I have a rusty old Mercedes to get rid of. No engine, Has doors that open to the top. Glass is good."
   And just to make sure his ad got noticed, the prankster tossed in a photo of the Cuban Gullwing taken several years ago by British writer Michael E. Ware.
   Though taken down almost immediately, the listing still caught the attention of BarnFinds.com, which looked at the offer with equal parts suspicion and wistfulness. "If this is the real deal, it would be the find of the century!" said the website.
   Sorry, BarnFinds, but you were right to be sceptical.
 
University of Miami Libraries. Cuban Heritage Collection,
Ramiro A. Fernández Collection
 A couple of other Gullwing notes:
What might be the Cuban 300SL in its early years can be seen in a photo of a 1950s-era Havana road race that is part of the University of Miami's Cuban Heritage Collection. In the shot, the two-tone No. 24 Mercedes coupe is drifting around a corner ahead of an Austin Healey. At least two Gullwings are known to have raced in Cuba: one, driven by Modesto Bolanos, bore the name of its sponsor, tobacco maker Trinidad Y Hermano; the other – this one? – was driven by Santiago “Chaquito” González.
According to a post I read on a forum (sorry, but I've lost the link), someone inspected the Cuban Gullwing and reported that it has been stripped of all its manufacturer's identification numbers. If that's true, it means there could be a bogus 300SL out there somewhere, assembled from spare parts and fabricated bits and registered under the Cuban car's VIN. I bet it's in New Hampshire.



Thursday, July 9, 2015

Cuba Chrome: Should be real interesting TV


According to its badge, this 1949-1952 Oldsmobile has Nissan ingredients.
   I can't wait to watch Cuba Chrome, the new reality television series about Cuba's famous classic cars and the struggles of their owners to keep them running.
  And not just for the cars – though undoubtedly, we'll see many interesting vehicles in the series that debuts on Discovery on July 13. A video by Pilgrim Studios, the creator of Cuba Chrome, offers an enticing advance look.
   What promises to be just as intriguing, though, is the application of the "reality TV" concept – already laughable, in most cases – to a place where reality is notoriously pliable. There will be stories, many stories. All will be entertaining, and some might even be true.
   This will be a treat.





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 cubisima.com.
   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.