Defeat, delayed


Ford Consul: nearing the end of its road.
   Even in Cuba, it is evident that metal is mortal, and that vehicles have finite lives, albeit, on this island, probably much longer lives than their designers and assemblers could ever have imagined.
  In sagging testament to this inevitability is this British-built Ford Consul. Its tailpipe hangs by a cord. Its fenders, its hood and trunk lid, even its roof show rust that will not be deterred by a buttering of body filler.




  But it is the sad droop of its doors that betrays the extent of the inner corrosion and metal fatigue that seek to return this five-plus-decades-old sedan to the base elements from which it was formed.
Later I see the Consul labouring along the street, blue smoke drifting in its wake, a death clatter coming from its Soviet tractor engine. How long could it last? Who could bother trying to repair it?
   In Havana I come across a 1955 Chevrolet four-door, its oxidized fender speaking of a restoration abandoned. But the Chevrolet's body lines are straight; its doors fit snugly. Perhaps the repairs are merely delayed, because there is life here yet.


Scarred survivor: 1955 Chevrolet.


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