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Showing posts from August, 2010

Post No. 101

Like a '56 Chevy, Caristas keeps ticking along.

When Mercedes met Fargo

This, we can be fairly certain, is NOT the truck that hit Cody LeCompte's Hyundai. Advertised recently on, the site known as the "Cuban Craigslist," it looks, in fact, like it rarely leaves its driveway (which, incidentally, seems as well-finished as the vehicle it is home to).
   By sheetmetal, this big flatbed is a 1952 Fargo, a Chrysler brand for Canada and export markets that was closely related to the manufacturer's line of Dodge commercial vehicles. Under that green hood, however, is a six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz OM352 diesel engine displacing 5.7 litres. The OM352 was used in tractors and industrial applications, as well as in the Mercedes-Benz Unimog and other vehicles. The transmission is apparently a six-speed unit from Spanish automaker Pegaso.
   Other goodies: hydraulic power steering, air-suspension seats, custom second-row seating and a whole bunch of diamond-plate.
   Asking price for what has to be a one-of-a-kind machine: 20,000 CUC,…

Driving in Cuba, reconsidered

SHOULD YOU you get behind the wheel in Cuba? Should I?    The case of Cody LeCompte, the Canadian teenager held on the island after a collision until public pressure helped secure his (pending) release, should have us all thinking about the risks of renting a car there.   Canada's Foreign Affairs department, we know, has long advised against driving in Cuba, and several Cuba hands whose opinions I respect tell me they prefer to leave the driving to others when they visit the Caribbean nation.
   Still, LeCompte's experience, as best I can tell, was rare. Despite widespread claims that such detentions happen regularly, only one other documented case emerged in all the attention that Cody's story received in the press and on sites such as Facebook. And that one was, well, complicated.
   "Anne," an Eastern Ontario woman who didn't want her full name published, told the Ottawa Citizen she was held in Cuba for a full year after a February 2008 accident in which two …