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Showing posts from April, 2013

Little Britain

Considering its perilous state in the 1980s, the British auto industry has experienced a remarkable resurgence. Yes, its marques today are foreign-owned, but as Ronnie Schreiber reports at The Truth About Cars, Britain has not only become a net automotive exporter, but its industries are gaining a significant role in global supply chains.
  These three small soldiers, however, date from an earlier era of English export success. Again, the shots are from the viewfinder of Ren Bostelaar.

Two Buicks and a Mercury

Triple Plymouths

My son Ren recently spent some time in Cuba. I didn't need to tell him to take plenty of car photos. For the next while I'll show some of the shots he has kindly shared from his trip, starting with this trio of Plymouths.

To see more of Ren Bostelaar's photos from Cuba and elsewhere, go to

Toyota goes to war

  I'VE SAVED my favourite for last. The Asian entry in our three-continent collection is a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ25V that in 1958 was Raúl Castro's staff vehicle in the Sierra Cristal. The man who now is president of Cuba was leading a force of 50 men to open the Second Front "Frank Pais," named for a young revolutionary martyr.    Could this have been the first Toyota to see action in a guerilla war?

The Land Cruiser name – clearly patterned on Land Rover – emerged in 1954 as Toyota formed plans to export its rudimentary BJ four-by-four utility vehicle. The BJ itself was clearly patterned on another famous four-by-four, the Willys Jeep. Toyota's version had entered full production one year earlier to supply Japan's National Safety Forces (previously the National Police Reserve) as well as the forestry department and utilities.
   According to one account, the first Land Cruisers were exported to Pakistan in 1954. Another source suggests exports didn't start…

A poet soldier and a magic Jeep

Jeeps, we know, can do pretty much anything, but until now, I didn't realize that a single Jeep could appear in two places at once.
   Such is apparently possible, however, if it's the 1950s Jeep CJ-6 of Juan Almeida Bosque. Not only is the stout four-wheeler on standing display at the Granma Memorial in Havana – literally, it stands on concrete posts – but it can also be seen in the newly opened Third Front Historical Complex, a Santiago del Cuba museum dedicated to the life and work of Fidel Castro's longtime lieutenant and friend.
   To be fair, the Havana Jeep may be described as the "type" or "brand" of vehicle that carried Almeida after its capture from Batista's troops on the eastern front. Its placard isn't clear. And the Jeep in Santiago is identified unequivocally as Almeida's command car in one report, but in another as a "replica."
   Hard to tell much about the Almeida museum's Jeep from the photo at the first link…