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Showing posts from February, 2012

Another scooter sighting

I had seen the Čezeta scooter only in photographs. Then, one afternoon this month in Havana, I spotted not one but two real-life examples of the strange, Czechoslovakia-built two-wheeler.
    Only in Cuba.     One was coming toward me on a highway; I caught just a glimpse of it. But the veteran Čezeta you see here, with bumblebee-theme paint job, was parked for my leisurely perusal on Avenue Maceo, between the harbour and the tourist-crowded Old Havana district.     The Čezeta is odd-looking enough in photos, the seeming result of a marriage of a torpedo with a coffee pot. See a real one and your reaction can only be: "Yikes!"     Yet this scooter was designed for practicality. Built from 1957 until 1964 by the merged motorcycle companies CZ and Jawa, the Čezeta has a long, dual saddle concealing a big luggage compartment; an optional trailer was available for still more storage. Its long snout, which reportedly spurred some owners to nickname it "The Pig," houses …

O Kapitän

Just back from Cuba with a slight sunburn, many warm memories and, of course, enough photos to fill the trunk of this 1956/57 Opel Kapitän sedan. The rather suggestive ornament, above, wasn't a stock Opel item, but nonetheless looks at home on the Kapitän's hood.





A 50-year feud between neighbours

Fifty years ago this week, the United States instituted its near-complete trade embargo on Cuba, following the partial embargo it enacted in October 1960.
    Sheesh, has it only been five decades? Judging by the shapes and styles of Cuba's old vehicles — the most visible symbols of the ongoing rift between neighbours  — it seems like a lot longer.
    There's a reason for this.
    In February 1962, Ford was readying concept versions of its Mustang, and General Motors and Chrysler had their own sporty compacts in showrooms or on drawing boards. Car design was moving to a cleaner, trimmer look (even if mainstream sedans were growing bigger and heavier).
    But in the island to the south, car time — at least, American car time — had stopped years before (seeDon't Blame Dwight, Dec. 24, 2008). Even the newest vehicles in Cuba dated from an earlier design ethic, one in which the manufacturers lavished detail upon detail on their cars to catch the public's attention, like …

Another angle on La Rampa

Some time back, I posted this photo of La Rampa (Calle 23) at the Malecón, circa 1955, along with a link to a contemporary photo of the famous Havana corner.
   The old photo prompted a reader to share his memories of working in the landmark building on the left that was home to Ambar Motors, Telemundo  Television Channel 2 and other enterprises.
   For our reader, here's another view of the corner today, this one looking north through the gas station that now wears the colours of the Oro Negro state brand. The car is a 1948 Chevrolet, delineated by its chrome as the popular Fleetline Aero model. It may well have been delivered new through the Ambar General Motors agency next door.