Rarely immaculate. Always fascinating

Not pristine, but this 1954 Chevrolet sedan is certainly a survivor.
   AMERICAN CAR buffs eager to visit Cuba are in for a disappointment, says a countryman who has been to the island.
   "The media has everyone believing that Cuba is some kind of classic car mecca," "Derek911" of Long Island, N.Y., writes on a forum for owners of Porsches and other high-end cars.
  But most of the vehicles he saw were a hodgepodge of parts from all sources, rather than the "immaculate survivors" he expected.
   "You will see better classic cars at a 'cars and coffee' here in the U.S. than you would in Cuba," Derek reports.

  His conclusion? "It's interesting to see so many old cars on the road, but that's about it."
Hillman Minx is a Series IIIa model from 1959.
   Derek's right, of course, about the scarcity of unmolested survivor cars in Cuba.
   Still, it's hard to understand how any auto enthusiast with even a modicum of knowledge about Cuba would have thought otherwise – wide-eyed press reports notwithstanding.
   Unless he truly didn't know that Cuba's old cars, unlike their American counterparts, have never made the transition from daily necessity to weekend hobby.
   Will we see "better" classics at a North American car show? Right again.
Another survivor: 1958-60 Mercedes-Benz 220SE.
A hodgepodge Dodge or Ford, perhaps.
   For some of us, though, static rows of pampered, often over-restored Road Runners and Chevelles can be, well, boring.
   Not Cuba, where the streets are an ever-changing mix of automotive decades and origins, and you never know what next – diesel-belching Hudson? Brazilian-built dune buggy? Batista Junior's 1956 Corvette? – will come around the corner.
   Immaculate? Not often.
   Fascinating? Every time.

Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe wagon is a veteran from 1950.


tonyhavana said…
I'm in total agreement with you. I would much rather see a beat-up, or non-pristine old car actually driving on the road than look at long line-ups of garage/trailer queens at car shows. The other side of this though, is the high value that some Cubans think their cars are worth. Both sides are sadly mistaken in my opinion. Hope you have more time to devote to your car fascination now that you are retired! Always look forward to reading your blog. Maybe now is the time for you to buy that car you've always dreamed of. And what exactly would that be, if I may ask?
Cheers Tony
Caristas said…
True, Tony -- so many of the Cuban cars are four-door sedans that, even well restored, would not have much value on the open market. And yes, am hoping to spend more hands-on time (wrench and keyboard) on automotive pursuits. Dream car? Easy. An Iso Grifo GL. But since even an average Grifo can top $300K, I'd settle for an AMC Pacer X -- unless you can suggest any older BMWs that might be desirable! Cheers.
tonyhavana said…
Champagne taste and a beer budget! You could do a lot worse than a BMW 2002, 1966-1976. The early ones were called 1600s, but same body style. They are starting to go the way of the early 911s, prices are on the rise. What you need to do is drive one if you haven't already. I believe a BMW dealer in Ottawa has a 2002 ti in the showroom, or at least in a collection. My last one was a ti,( twin sidedraft carbs) they are extremely rare and were never sold in the US, but 100 or so came to Canada. I sold it last May in advance of my move to the west coast. Now I just have my VW Golf, which we drove out pulling a 5X8 trailer. Great trip!
There was a 1972 2002 tii (injected) for sale on Vancouver Island last week for $16,000 CDN which is a good deal these days. It was virtually a one owner car; guy had bought it at months old. It sold quickly.
Caristas said…
Right, I believe I've seen that 2002 at Otto's BMW -- it's for display only. Trick is finding a rust-free example, of course. You've got a better chance on the west coast. Maybe another one like that '72 will come along!
Jay Wollenweber said…
The blue car using a wheel rim as a jackstand looks like a 1940 Dodge with a Plymouth hood ornament. I don't see any obvious Ford bits on it except maybe the bumper guards. The wheels look more modern, but those tires look like they would be nothing short of terrifying in the rain.
Caristas said…
Thanks, Jay -- I thought it looked Dodge-like. And yes, those tires would be dodgy!

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