THIS MAN is Canadian, and so is the 10-speed he holds, an iconic Supercycle from the Canadian Tire retail chain. But this isn't his bike. It would have arrived in Cuba, perhaps years ago, with one of his countrymen. It's long been a practice for Canadian visitors to bring old bikes, ride them for the duration of their stay and then leave them on the island in the hope that Cubans can put them to good use. And the Cuban who now owns this Supercycle has done just that, renting it to tourists such as this gentleman for 10 CUC a week. Good deal all around.
(December 2012 note: See update link, below.) GUESS I'LL have to set aside my search for the younger Batista’s 1956 Corvette. An even tastier trophy has emerged – a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, better known as the Gullwing. Even on the Island of Surprises, I’d be astounded to come across one of these rare beauties. But in a brief section on Cuba in Automobiles Lost & Found (Haynes Publishing, 2008), I see a photo of a battered 300SL observed by author Michael E. Ware outside a private garage near Havana. The Gullwing, unmistakable lift-up doors in place, is dented and rusting and missing its engine, yet still would be prized by collectors the world over . . . if only they could extract it from Cuba. Restored, the Silver Metallic example with Lipstick Red interior might be worth more than $700,000 U.S. Reached in England, Mr. Ware tells me he was holidaying in Cuba when an acquaintance brought him to an unnamed community to see the car. “I never asked whe
How the 300SL would have looked new. Wikipedia photo. IN SIX YEARS , no topic here has drawn more attention than the story of Cuba's rotting Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe. Visitors from around the world seem endlessly appalled and fascinated by the sad fate of such a rare and beautiful car. The same analytics program that tells me the home nations of these visitors tells me where on this blog they land – and it's apparent that many are missing the full story (or as full as anyone has been able to make it). The world's largest Internet indexer – you know who I'm talking about – insists on routing the curious to a five-year post and refuses to make note of subsequent entries. Why? Who knows? To provide a more complete picture, here's a list of CARISTAS entries on the Gullwing, which, to be clear, was first brought to the world's attention by British auto historian Michael E. Ware in Automobiles Lost & Found (Haynes Publishing, 20