No wonder they won the war


Baby blue: Fidel Castro's Land Rover Series 1 at the Granma Memorial.
   Sturdy four-wheel-drive trucks from three nations – and three continents – carried Cuba's revolutionary commanders in their battles with the government troops of Fulgencio Batista.
   From Britain came the Land Rover Series 1 station wagon that served Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra forests in 1958 as he directed raids on the towns below. Today that Land Rover rests on concrete pylons in Havana, on permanent display at the Granma Memorial.
   It still carries the marks of "several bullet impacts," as its placard observes, but it's been painted a cheerful light blue that might not have been its original colour. The curators have shown they are not slaves to historical accuracy – a nearby Pontiac, also blue, was industrial grey not so long ago.
   As a station wagon, the Land Rover would have come with a detachable, vented roof that ran the length of its long passenger compartment designed to seat up to 10. At some point, truck and roof must have gone in different directions; today Fidel's Land Rover is an open four-door (five-door, if you consider the side-hinged rear gate) that appears more phaeton than station wagon.
   The Series 1 wagon, with 107-inch wheelbase. 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine and selectable four-wheel-drive, was available from 1956 to 1958. Production never approached the numbers of the iconic, short-wheelbase Series 1 models. At least one website reports that the wagons today are prized by the Land Rover faithful.
   They won't be getting this one. But where did Fidel Castro get it? That, I'd like to know.
 
   Next: A U.S. entry.

Somewhere along the line, station wagon lost its roof.
Black bench set, big banjo wheel.
Birmabright aluminum alloy body holds rust at bay.



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