Showing posts from March, 2012

A lump of butter

     From a distance, I thought this private taxi with louvred rear engine lid was a Volkswagen Beetle. But as I drew closer, I realized that the yellow bug was something else. A decal in the back window told me "Renault," and a bit of later research revealed that this was a 4CV, as produced by the French automaker from 1947 through 1961.    The story is that the 4CV, or "cat-shu-voh," was developed surreptitiously at Renault during the Second World War, the goal of its designers a basic, affordable car to help France rebuild once free of its German occupiers. Clearly, they were influenced by Germany's KdF, the car that would become the Beetle after the war.   Like the Beetle, the 4CV has independent suspension, a rear-mounted engine and light, unit-body construction. Yet though smaller than the Volkswagen, the Renault has four doors to the VW's two, centre-hinged on each side so that the front doors are of the suicide variety.    Mike Bumbeck of th

Benedict XVI drops by

Global and Mail editorial cartoonist Brian Gable's take on the papal visit .

The fever has hit Cuba

  NEW COMPUTER , new operating system, new photo editing software  —  I'll need some time to get used to all this.   While I'm doing that, here's a look at what's trending in Guanabacoa.

Roll with it

For hire: 1950 Buick Super convertible.    Some of Cuba's finest old cars are running up a lot more miles these days.    The reason? The island's 2010 relaxation of rules about self-employment.    Of 178 activities newly opened to those willing to give capitalism a whirl, private taxi operator seems to have been a popular choice. And more than one neophyte cabbie appears to have quickly twigged to the appeal of a desirable classic car in securing big-tipping tourist fares.    These private cabs, seen today in every resort area, are not to be confused with the handpicked antiques of the government-run Gran Car service, or the plodding Havana sedans and wagons that serve as fixed-route collectives.    These are family cars  —  often heirlooms handed down through generations  —  and until recently in private service (at least as far as the government was concerned). Today, they're very much in the public eye.    Visitors to Cuba will like this. Now they're more l

A modest proposal

1955 Chevrolet sedan in Havana.    I have this business idea.    Round up a bunch of old cars in Canada and the United States, nice cars, but in need of bodywork and paint. Load them on a freighter and ship them to Cuba. There, hire the best panel beaters, upholsterers, painters, etc. to work their magic. Pay them double or triple their usual rates. Ship the cars back to North America and still sell them at a profit.    Think it might work?
Cuba 1957 "Fast Delivery" Ford van used by Directorio Revolucionario group in its failed attack on the Presidential Palace. Cuba 2012 "Bad Boys" 1949 Dodge, used by unknowns.