Showing posts from April, 2014

Auténtica Harley-Davidsons

 "AUTENTICA CUBA" is the theme of a brilliant advertising campaign by Cuba's Tourism Ministry.
   You may have seen the billboards (unless, of course, you live in the United States). Hands sorting dominoes on a weathered table; children racing through a colonial plaza; ballet dancers stretching and reaching at rehearsal. The images convey the tones and textures of an island nation that offers far more than palm trees and beaches.
   A photo of the annual Harlistas rally in Varadero would be a natural addition. What could be more authentic than this gathering of flatheads and knuckleheads and panheads, of 45 cubic-inchers and 74s, of springers and Hydra-Glides and Duo-Glides?
   And where could such an assembly be drawn not from specialty shops and guarded collections, but from the streets where these honest old machines still serve their owners daily?
   Nowhere but Cuba.

Hola Harlistas

DROPPED BY a gathering of Cuba's famous Harlistas and took many – many! – photographs. Would you have expected anything different?
   I'll be posting more over the next while.

See also:
The Legend of Cuba`s Lost Harley-Davidsons
Doing the Harley Math
Sacrifice and Ingenuity

The tale of the mystery muscle car

Every car tells a story, and some of the richest stories, we know, are told in Cuba. Consider this green muscle car from an era rarely seen on an island that has not imported vehicles directly from the United States since 1959.
   It is, says the owner, nodding to the decal in the rear window, a 1979 Chevrolet Camaro. It came to Cuba years ago from Canada, he tells me, the property of a contract worker who left it behind when he returned home.
   Alas, the original big gasoline V-8 engine has been replaced by a more economical diesel, the owner admits. But with fat tires and raised tail, the car retains its muscular swagger.
   Except it does not look like any 1979 Camaro I've ever seen.
   I decide not to mention this to its proud custodian, thinking that perhaps it came not from Canada but South America, where the Camaro badge might have been applied to some altogether different General Motors model.
   Not the case, I've since discovered. The name has always belonged solely to…

Your Cadillac has arrived – and so have you!

Should you desire to tour Cuba in style and comfort – and, of course, you do – you'd be hard-pressed to find a better conveyance than this 1950 Cadillac sedan.    Though its side trim is a bit confusing – some pieces missing, others perhaps adapted from a Cadillac of the previous year – I'm pretty sure from its overall proportions as well as the vaulted shape of the decklid that this a Sixty Special model rather than the more common Series 62.
   If I'm right, it's one of 13,755 Sixty Specials built for 1950, all on a 130-inch wheelbase that was down three inches from 1949 but still ensured copious interior space. The Series 62, of which 55,311 were produced, had a 126-inch wheelbase.

   Almost certainly, this Cadillac was sold new by the busy Ambar General Motors agency in Havana. It might have gone to a wealthy businessman or politician, maybe even to a mobster.    From the shine of its brightwork, we know this enormous Cadillac has been given much love in the decades…