Showing posts from April, 2013

Little Britain

  Considering its perilous state in the 1980s, the British auto industry has experienced a remarkable resurgence. Yes, its marques today are foreign-owned, but as Ronnie Schreiber reports at The Truth About Cars , Britain has not only become a net automotive exporter, but its industries are gaining a significant role in global supply chains.   These three small soldiers, however, date from an earlier era of English export success. Again, the shots are from the viewfinder of Ren Bostelaar. Perhaps on its own way to a rebirth is an Austin A90 Westminster. Marked with 'Austin of England' on its flanks, the A90 was built between 1954 and 1956. Flush headlamps identify Ford Prefect as a 1949-53; headlamps on earlier Prefects were atop the fenders. The two-door version of this classically penned design was the Anglia. . A later Prefect 100E. More than 100,000 of this series were built by Ford Motor Co.'s British division between 1953 and 1959.

Two Buicks and a Mercury

In Havana, a 1956 Buick. Split windshield is easier to produce in Cuba. Buick Special coupe from 1952, with some added Oldsmobile trim.   Just right in red and white: Big four-door hardtop is a 1957 Mercury Monterey.

Triple Plymouths

   My son Ren recently spent some time in Cuba. I didn't need to tell him to take plenty of car photos. For the next while I'll show some of the shots he has kindly shared from his trip, starting with this trio of Plymouths. Perhaps branded as an export Dodge, from 1953 or 1954. An upright and formal sedan from 1949. From the A pillar back, a '53 or '54 Plymouth. Front clip could be from a Dodge. To see more of Ren Bostelaar's photos from Cuba and elsewhere, go to .

Toyota goes to war

Autos Camayd in Holguin was among early Toyota dealers in the western hemisphere.   I'VE SAVED my favourite for last. The Asian entry in our three-continent collection is a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ25V that in 1958 was Raúl Castro's staff vehicle in the Sierra Cristal. The man who now is president of Cuba was leading a force of 50 men to open the Second Front "Frank Pais," named for a young revolutionary martyr.    Could this have been the first Toyota to see action in a guerilla war? Land Cruiser FJ25V served Raúl Castro in Sierra Cristal fighting in 1958.     The Land Cruiser name – clearly patterned on Land Rover – emerged in 1954 as Toyota formed plans to export its rudimentary BJ four-by-four utility vehicle. The BJ itself was clearly patterned on another famous four-by-four, the Willys Jeep. Toyota's version had entered full production one year earlier to supply Japan's National Safety Forces (previously the National Police Reserve

A poet soldier and a magic Jeep

One of two CJ's identified as Juan Almeida Bosque's wartime Jeep.    Jeeps, we know, can do pretty much anything, but until now, I didn't realize that a single Jeep could appear in two places at once.    Such is apparently possible, however, if it's the 1950s Jeep CJ-6 of Juan Almeida Bosque. Not only is the stout four-wheeler on standing display at the Granma Memorial in Havana – literally, it stands on concrete posts – but it can also be seen in the newly opened Third Front Historical Complex, a Santiago del Cuba museum dedicated to the life and work of Fidel Castro's longtime lieutenant and friend.    To be fair, the Havana Jeep may be described as the "type" or "brand" of vehicle that carried Almeida after its capture from Batista's troops on the eastern front. Its placard isn't clear. And the Jeep in Santiago is identified unequivocally as Almeida's command car in one report , but in another as a "replica."