Showing posts from December, 2015

Another mechanic's ride


What a Mercedes mechanic drives in Cuba

The ownerof this 1955 Buick Special two-door hardtop works at the Mercedes-Benz heavy-vehicle repair depot in Matanzas.

Another sneak peek at Carros de Cuba

 WITH 18 days left, the fundraising campaign for Piotr Degler's photo book has attracted €24,800 in pledges, or roughly 83 per cent of its €30,000 target.
Here are more of the images that campaign backers will see in Carros de Cuba.

The Aston Martin's story, and the probable truth

THOUGHTFUL AND entertaining, Jonathan Ward's account of his foray to Cuba is a happy change from the usual breathless first-timer's report.
   He tells of handing out fuses, bulbs and other auto-repair necessities, and helping to fix a taxi radiator hose with a Band-Aid. He describes the progress and decay he sees side by side.
   And he shares a revealing remark by a doctor who moonlights as a tricycle taxi operator about the island's dilemma.
   "Communism does not work," the doctor tells him, "but capitalism has no conscience."
 Yet when it comes to the rare 1958 Aston Martin DB 2/4 he saw in Cuba, Ward reveals a rookie error.
   He fell for The Story.
   Everything in Cuba has a story – amusing or romantic or poignant or all of these things. Sometimes it is true. Sometimes it is embroidered from a single thread of fact. Sometimes, you suspect, it has been composed on the spot.
   Storytelling is part of the Cuban culture, a tradition nourished by decades o…

Latest find in Cuba: a race-prepped Aston Martin

    ANOTHER RARE and desirable car has surfaced in Cuba – this one a race-prepared Aston Martin DB 2/4.
   And unlike Cuba's infamous, rotted-to-ruins Mercedes Gullwing, the 1958 Aston Martin is said to be salvageable, if only barely.
   The source of this assessment is none other than premier U.S. restorer Jonathan Ward, who came across the British hatchback – yes, the DB 2/4 is a hatchback – on his first visit to the island (Ward, like so many Americans, wanting to get to Cuba before all the Americans get to Cuba).

   Writing at, Ward reports riding in a Chaika M14 taxi to a farm an hour outside Havana, where he was shown the Aston Martin resting under a blanket of dust in a shed.    "As our eyes adjusted to the dim cavern, we saw the unmistakable buttocks of a British sport car," he relates. "I immediately knew what we were looking at."
   Ward, founder of ICON 4x4, the Los Angeles shop that modernizes old cars and trucks for wealthy enthusiasts …

The boss drives a Bel Air

 AT THE VERY back of this body and mechanical shop was the proprietor's own car, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sedan undergoing its own slow restoration. No telling how many times it had been rebuilt before, but it looked clean and straight.

Where there's no evading the battle with rust

   I ALWAYSlaugh when I see a TV car restorer in Dallas or Las Vegas open up a project vehicle and complain that it's rustier than expected.    Rust? Here in Canada, we can show you rust.
   And in Cuba, too, the chapistas know all about corrosion and its insidious appetite for ferrous metal.
   In snowy climes, the liberal spreading of salt on icy roads speeds the electro-chemical process that is rust on any car not tucked away for the winter. In Cuba, where you're never far from the ocean, those same sodium, calcium and magnesium chlorides waft in on the breeze – in smaller quantities, certainly, but just as damaging over the many years of a Cuban car's lifetime.
   The TV restorers from Gas Monkey Garage and Count's Kustoms can fix rust, of course. They just don't want to invest the time.
   Cuban restorers have no choice.