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Showing posts from July, 2014
I know, I promised no more motorcycles for a bit. But at least it's not a Harley!
  I've come across a number of these Cushman scooters in Varadero. Must have been a dealer there, back in the 1940s and '50s.

See also:
A Cushman, No, a Cusman, in Cuba

The quintessential old Harley

HERE'S THAT Harley-Davidson from the last post, sans band members. It wasn't the oldest or rarest Harley at the meet, but it was my favourite – a 1955 or '56 (they're pretty much identical), finished in honest black and carrying, to my mind, just the right amount of chrome.    With 74-cubic-inch panhead engine, it could be a standard FL model, but given its Cuban heritage – plus the purple auxiliary headlamps – I'm guessing it's the police-issue FLE that was tuned for traffic control duties. The hand shifter for the gearbox is another clue: a majority of civilian buyers were opting for Harley's new foot shifter in the mid-50s, but police and military customers remained loyal to the hand control.
   This is the last of my Harlista shots – at least for now. Time to turn back to cars and trucks. Maybe some buses, too.

Their name translates to "all mixed up," but members of To'Mezclao certainly seemed sure of themselves at the Harlistas gathering in Varadero. The popular group is known for a blend of styles, from cumbia to hip-hop to reggaeton. See a video here of To'Mezclao performing live in Havana.

The power of patina

"Patina" gets mentioned a lot these days. In its broadest sense, it's the visual evidence – faded and peeling paint, blossoming rust – of the effects of the environment on a surface over time.    Many who love old stuff – cars, motorcycles, furniture – treasure patina, and not just because it separates the reproduction from the authentic. With its unique patterns and textures, patina can turn the mass-produced item into something individual, a piece with its own story to be pondered even as that story continues to evolve.
   Plus, patina is free. Not every classic vehicle owner can spend thousand on that perfect (for a day) paint job, but all can elect the default: just let it rust in place. It's probably fair to say that cost was a larger factor than aesthetics in the rat rod movement that surfaced in the early 1990s.
   Of course, not all patina is honest patina. Just as unscrupulous dealers have long "antiqued" dressers and chairs by beating them with cha…