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Showing posts from June, 2015

DeSoto Diplomacy

I WAS PUZZLED when I came across this chrome-toothed cruiser during one of my first trips to Cuba. The grille seemed vaguely Mercury, but the body lines, and especially the bump-out behind the back wheel, said Plymouth.
Some type of amalgamation? Yes, I eventually learned, but one that came that way as a DeSoto Diplomat, an export model that was mainly a Plymouth with a front-end treatment from Chrysler's pricier DeSoto line.
  This one is a '55. It may be missing a few trim pieces, but hey –it still has all its teeth.

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Governor de Soto, your taxi is here

Governor de Soto, your taxi is here

   HERNANDO DE SOTO was appointed governor of Cuba in 1538 but spent just 11 months on the island before leading his expedition into what now is the United States, where he hoped to find gold and instead would encounter hostile natives and eventually the illness – recorded only as "a fever" – to which he would succumb.
   But de Soto's name lives on in Cuba. His image, too, if the stylized conquistador in the logo of the Chrysler DeSoto (sometimes De Soto) bears any likeness to the Spanish explorer.

    DeSoto was a separate line for Chrysler from 1928 to 1961, generally positioned above its mainstream brands but a notch or two below its luxury divisions. For much of that period the Detroit automaker also produced an export-model DeSoto, based on cars from Plymouth or Dodge and usually called the Diplomat.
   Most of Cuba's DeSotos are of the export variety, like this 1948 sedan from the government's Gran Car fleet of tourist-pleasing taxis. It bears both DeSoto and…

Spoiler alert