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“Cuba Cars: Classic Cars of the Carribean”

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by Glenn Oyoung

103 miles off the coast of Florida lies an island that Christopher Columbus described as “the most beautiful land ever seen by human eyes.” For centuries Cuba has been tossed and turned by the world’s great powers as if a rare gem in a life-sized game of Risk. Spain, Great Britain, Spain (a second time), and finally the United States ruled over Cuba. The Cuban culture — shaped by “African, European, and indigenous American influences*” — has given the world some its most beautiful music, dance, and literature, not to mention cuisine, rum, and prized cigars.

A brief period of independence in the early 20th century and the booming sugar trade gave rise to a tourist industry featuring uber-glamorous nightclubs with names like Tropicana and Cabaret Kursal. But the corruption and income inequality that came hand in hand with Cuba’s economic growth eventually gave rise to the Cuban Revolution led by a young lawyer named Fidel Castro. As tensions between the U.S. and its island neighbor to the south hit an all-time low, the U.S. instituted a trade embargo in 1962 cutting Cuba off from not only America but many other countries.

Source: havanacollectibles.com

It’s due to this Cold War-era brinksmanship that Cuba today surely must qualify as the 9th Wonder of the World from an automotive perspective. The tiny Caribbean island is not only home to world-famous cigars and magnificent rum, but also over 60,000 roadworthy examples of 1950s American cars of all makes and models.

In their book “Cuba Cars: Classic Cars of the Caribbean,” authors Harri Morick and Rainer Floer don’t try to give an exhaustive overview of the politics of Cuba, nor in their words does it “pretend to be a reference book on automotive engineering.”

The writers do a fine job of helping us understand the lengths everyday Cubans will go to in order to keeping their vintage treasures alive – including MacGuyver-level Hyundai engine-swaps into Tri-Five Chevys. They also point out interesting and historically relevant landmarks throughout the island.

Where “Cuba Cars” really shines is in the photography department. The book pays tribute to the vibrant colors of the cars, the buildings, and the gorgeous island itself. This is not a coffee table book. This is a rum table book. The best way to appreciate “Cuba Cars” is sipping on your favorite tropical cocktail with your iPhone on silent. Stepping back in time is done best without ringtones.

*from Wikipedia

“Cuba Cars: Classic Cars of the Caribbean”

Format: Hardcover, 144 pages

Authors: Harri Morrick, Rainer Floer

Publisher: Delius Klasig

Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 0.7 x 11.7 inches

MSRP: $40.00

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