|Feigning sleep, carefully trained dog is ready to pounce on intruders.|
It made me imagine some enormous garage, perhaps burrowed underground to elude the spy satellites, where Cuba's most skilled craftsmen shape good-as-new parts for Bel Airs and 210s and Nomads from metals scavenged from decommissioned MiG-21s.
Too wonderful to be true, I thought.
Yet today I can report there is a secret Chevy workshop. I have seen it. I took photos.
I was brought to this place by a man we'll call Alonso, owner of a black-over-white 1956 Bel Air sedan that was purchased new by his grandfather, a farmer near, yes, Matanzas.
Alonso's Bel Air looked good from a distance, less good up close. But now, he told me, his Chevy was being rebuilt, and he offered to take me to see it. You can imagine how quickly I accepted.
We headed into the countryside in a borrowed car. As we rounded corner after corner I lost track of our direction. Perhaps we were taking the most direct route; perhaps this was to maintain the secrecy of our destination. All I know is that when we finally pulled up before a modest structure clad in corrugated steel sheets, we were somewhere ... inland.
Tucked into a lean-to at the side of the garage was a two-tone '55 Chevrolet. Clearly, we were at the right spot. And beyond that '55 was Alonso's car, stripped of front clip and interior, the remainder of its body in mid-repair. I'll show pictures in my next post.
The proprietor was away, and we could not see into the garage proper. From its size, however, I knew it could house no more than two or three of the big '50s Chevys. This was not the grand workshop of my dreams.
But then I realized that this told of something far more sophisticated. Why build one giant facility and risk exposure of the entire program should a visiting car buff stumble across it, when you can create a series of one-man shops, all capable of carrying on independently should one or more of their number be discovered?
The Secret Chevy Network exists. I know, because I have seen one small part of it.