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Showing posts from November, 2012

Rich relics

ALSO FROM the then-and-now file, how about this Rolls-Royce photographed many decades ago in Havana's Cathedral Square?
   Could it be the same Rolls-Royce now on display in the Depósito del Automóvil just a few blocks south of the cathedral?
   Certainly, there are differences. The car in the square has low-mounted, drum-shaped headlamps. The depository car's lamps are higher and cone-shaped. One car has louvred engine side covers; the other does not. Still, such items could have been changed over the years.
   Closer examination, however, leads me to suspect the Rolls above is a late model from the 1906-to-1926 Silver Ghost series. (And, perhaps a Pall Mall Tourer from the Springfield, Massachusetts, factory operated by Rolls-Royce from 1921 to 1931 – though given the variations between bodies supplied by the various coachbuilders working with Rolls-Royce in that era, such precise identifications may be better left to the experts.)
   The depository Rolls, said to have been aban…

Colour coincidence?

Could the 1950 Buick Super convertible above, overflowing with merrymakers in the time when Havana still celebrated Carnaval, be the same Super convertible I came upon not far from Havana in 2012?
   Granted, Buick built 12,259 Super convertible coupes for the 1950 model year. We can be pretty sure that more than one went to Cuba.
   Still, there was no shade in Buick's colour catalogue for 1950 that came close to the hue – Tangerine Sunrise? – that looks to be the carnival car's original paint. It could only have been a special order. And while the car I saw had obviously been resprayed, no doubt many times over, its colour is remarkably similar to the car in the earlier photo.
   I like to think it is the same car.


Continental drift: Mark II mysteries

Of just 3,000 Continental Mark IIs produced, at least four are believed to have gone to Cuba – a measure of the wealth enjoyed by a privileged few on the island in the 1950s.
   But to really understand the extent to which that wealth was concentrated, consider this. Of those Cuban Continentals, two – and perhaps even three – were owned by the ruling Batista family.
   A Mark II bearing serial number 3105 belonged to Francisco "Panchin" Batista, governor of Havana Province and brother of President Fulgencio Batista. According to a database maintained by the Mark II Forum, the Internet's gathering spot for owners and fans of the rare luxury cars, Panchin bought the car from Fort Lauderdale Lincoln-Mercury in Florida. An invoice dated April 30, 1956, reveals that the Continental was off-white with mid-grey leather interior and air conditioning.
   Panchin's Continental went to Cuba but stayed only briefly, according to information on the Mark II Forum. By 1957 it was back…