Sunday, December 21, 2014

That mythic Mercedes Gullwing

   Boy, facts sure can ruin a good story. Guess that's why Jan Richter of didn't bother to look for any before reporting on a photographer's pursuit of the Mercedes Gullwing in Cubas.
   According to Richter's Dec. 12 account, Piotr Degler Jablonksi had heard only rumours of the rusted-beyond-repair Gullwing before setting out to capture images of the island's classic cars for the 2015 edition of his art calendar.
   "After weeks of unsuccessful searching," writes the Zurich-based Richter, "he was ready to accept it was a mere myth – until he caught a glimpse of something silver under a tree… "
Michael E. Ware photo, used by permission
Other websites, from Road & Track to Popular Mechanics, have repeated Richter's story, some with further embroidery. Top Gear suggests Degler knew nothing of the Gullwing before he arrived, but "soon got wind of a ‘legendary' 300SL rumoured by locals to lay (sic) somewhere on the island.", meantime, speaks of the photographer hearing "mere whispers in the night" of a neglected Mercedes "in a remote stretch of Cuba."
   That "remote stretch," CARISTAS readers know, is the outskirts of Havana, where Miguel Llorente of This European Life photographed the Gullwing as recently as 2012.
   And Degler has made clear he was well aware beforehand of the car's presence, if not its specific location. Anyone doing even the most casual research would have known about the Mercedes and its sorry state, as first documented in Michael E. Ware's Automobiles Lost & Found (Haynes Publishing, 2008) and subsequently covered by CARISTAS, Llorente, Just a Car Guy, Visit Cuba ... the list goes on.
   But that would have spoiled Richter's story.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

What price significance?

Amidst much breathless speculation about the impact of the new détente on Cuba's classic cars, Time reporter Jacob Davidson offers this cogent, well-researched assessment of their desirability to collectors. Bottom line? Um ... not much.

Seen in passing, a 1954 Cadillac Series 62 sedan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yes, they say, but what about the cars?

Not ready for retirement, a 1955 Dodge taxi looks for tourist fares.
   The biggest development in U.S.-Cuba relations since the Bay of Pigs Invasion and what are some news outlets talking about?
"The Era Of Cuba's Classic American Cars May Be Coming To An End" – Business Insider
   "How Long Can Cuba's Beautiful Classic Cars Last?" – CNN
   "Cuba Trade Could Benefit Car Collectors, Automakers" – USA Today
   C'mon folks. While people might expect such speculation from, well, car-crazy blogs like this, they look to organizations like yourselves for broader perspective on today's historic announcements from Barack Obama and Raúl Castro about the thawing of a 54-year ice age.
   Then again, the ancient, pre-revolution American autos that still serve so many Cubans are what many outsiders think of first when the topic of the Caribbean island nation arises.
   What will happen to the old cars? It's far too early to say.
   But to answer CNN's question ... a whole lot longer, if necessary.