Showing posts from May, 2010

Sports car sightings

   Forget, for a moment, Cuba's Maseratis and other eluders. The island has plenty of mainstream sports cars, and these can often be seen in daily use. CARISTAS friend Michael Roy provides shots of two MGAs he's come across in Havana.    The modern, 10-spoke rims on the top car look spiffy  —  and check out the wooden wheel and dash on the lower car. More than 100,000 MGAs were produced between 1955 and 1962. Most were built in England, but according to the North American MGA Register , some were sent in "kit" form to other countries, including Cuba, for final assembly.

Meet me on Mercomatic

   Merc-O-Matic was Mercury’s version of the Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission introduced in 1950. “Just accelerate to go, brake to stop,” said the ads. “Furthermore, it's performance proved!”    This Merc-O-Matic-equipped Mercury looked at home in the parking lot at Juan Gualberto G√≥mez Airport, but another suitable spot for it could be the Charlotte Park district of  Nashville, Tennessee. Ford Motor Co. built a factory in the neighbourhood near the Cumberland River in the 1950s to produce windshields and other glass, and many of the streets are named for Ford products.    There’s a Marauder Drive and a Comet Drive, and both a Mercomatic Drive and a Mercomatic Court .

Mercury observed

   My father's first car, and the first car I remember riding in, was a 1956 Mercury two-door sedan. Now Ford Motor Co. is reportedly preparing to drop the 71-year-old brand, and another fine car name will be lost.    Except in Cuba . 1957 Mercury Montclair Phaeton four-door hardtop, early model (later Mercurys from the 1957 model year have quad headlamps ).

This just in!

   Any day now, watch for Hagerty's Cars That Matter to announce its "discovery" of Cadillacs in Havana. Cuban Caddies, from top: 1955 with scrollwork grille, probable 1952 (gold emblems mark Cadillac 50th anniversary), 1951 in taxi duty, 1956 Series 62 sedan, 1958 two-door hardtop with non-original grille insert.

Cool cars in Cuba? Who knew?

   JUST LIKE Columbus “discovered” lands that already were inhabited, a U.S.-based website, Hagerty’s Cars That Matter, is touting its discovery of a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing and other exotic cars in Cuba.    “Finally,” says the breathless blog, “there’s something more than rumor and innuendo.”    CARISTAS readers, of course, have known about the Gullwing for many months, and readers of Michael E. Ware’s Automobiles Lost & Found (Haynes Publishing, 2008), will have been aware of it still longer – though not as long as the Cubans who have been the car’s custodians since the 1950s.    Offered on Hagerty’s website are several photos of the rusting Mercedes that are similar to Mr. Ware’s shots published here and in Automobiles Lost & Found . The site also provides pictures of a 300SL roadster, an Arbath Zagato “Double Bubble” coupe and a “Vignale-bodied mystery car” that again were already documented in the book, where the third car is correctly identified as a 1951 Mas

Oldtimers rule!

  In a cogent analysis of the possibilities for change in Cuba, Archibald R.M. Ritter of the Canadian Foundation For the Americas, an independent think tank, asks:    “Is Cuba at the threshold of a reform process, pushed by economic imperatives and forces from below? Or will it continue to be paralyzed by a gerontocracy obsessed with political control?”    I don’t think he’s talking about the cars.