Showing posts from December, 2013

New year, new look

Bull bars could help this '55 Chevy Bel Air in an encounter with a wandering cow.    Regular readers (a most discerning crew!) will have noticed a few changes to the appearance of this blog, the largest being the new logo. It was time for a change, and this logo seems to work a lot better in the mobile applications used by more and more visitors.    I considered a full design update, but the templates I checked out seemed overly fussy. So for now I'm sticking with Google Blogger's Simple Template  —  the small-block Chevy V8 of the blog world. May do some HTML tinkering, though, if I get brave enough.   What won't change, of course, is the content theme, since there so many more Cuba car stories to tell.   Best wishes to all CARISTAS readers, and may your 2014 include a visit to Cuba.

Once a woodie?

Steel cabin on this 1947-48 Mercury was likely fashioned from several donor vehicles .    I posted a photo of this 1947 or '48 Mercury a couple of entries ago. I hadn't given the big Mercury a lot of thought when I snapped it in Havana a year or two back.    Now I realize it might be an example – much reworked, obviously – of Mercury's rare woodie station wagon of that era. According to the Ultimate Car Spotters Guide 1946-1969 by Tad Burness, Mercury made just 3,559 wagons for 1947, and even fewer, 1,889, for 1948.    Ford produced more than 24,000 copies of its version of that wagon over the same two years. Mercury wagons of that period in good condition – and most survivors are indeed kept in first-rate order – sell for more than $100,000.    The Havana wagon, even if it did begin life as a woodie, would have little interest to a collector. From the windshield back, it has a steel body that has been adapted from some other vehicle – or more likely, a nu

A little news, a lot of pictures

   News sites, you may have noticed, dug into their copious archives of Cuba car photos to illustrate their reports on the relaxation of vehicle import rules.    CARISTAS , of course, needs no such excuse. Chevy truck, converted to bus. Gaz truck, similarly made into bus. 1950 Ford convertible in Havana. With bright interior to match. German-built late '50s Ford Taunus gets a wash.     Some of the photos published elsewhere are pretty nice, by the way. Check out this collection at Australia's Financial Review .

Car news in Cuba: Nothing much has changed

   Several news outlets got excited about the announcement this week that the Cuban government will allow "unrestricted" car imports.    This, reported the Telegraph, meant the "end of the road" for the island's vintage vehicles. Others declared it "the end of an era" – a phrase not used by most more than three or four times a week in conjunction with, well, pretty much any change anywhere. Mercury station wagon from 1947 or '48.   The Agence France Press, meantime, predicted that "opening Cuba's domestic car market to imports is likely to have fateful consequences for the lovingly maintained 1950s cars on the island."    Fateful consequences do sound ominous, though not as ominous, we'll all agree, as ominous consequences, which are just a degree below dire consequences.    Reuters, rather confusingly, explained that Cubans now will be able to buy "new and used vehicles from the state without government permission,

More from the corredor de la muerte

Geely CKs, retired from Cuba's daily rental fleet. Plastic discolouration is a problem. Newer MK appears not to have fared much better. Black bumper covers could have been in-service replacements.

Rental car death row

Tripod Geely: Apparently, not a spare tire to spare.    These Chinese-built Geely CKs look to have had a short life as daily rentals in Cuba.    In their defence, however, let's remember that the CK is the island's cheapest rental vehicle. That makes it the first choice of Cuban nationals looking to rent a car, and thus likely to spend most of its time on the battered roads that are a fact of life away from the tourist areas.    Appearances notwithstanding, these Geelys may not have reached the end of their road. A rental official thought they could be destined for Venezuela, as partial payment for the oil the South American nation ships to Cuba . Unhappy diagnosis. That probably won't buff out. Cuban sun isn't kind to plastic parts. An array of wounded CKs: Next stop, Venezuela?