Chariots of chrome; classic American cars of Cuba by Simon Bell

A gorgeous album of colour photographs of the American cars of Cuba. Having been separated by sanctions from the USA since 1961, Cuba is (or was) full of old American cars, many of them ingeniously modified and maintained to keep them on the road. Some of them are original, some of them less so. All of them look wonderful irrespective of condition; gleaming and loved, or battered and functional, all of them have a very special something about them.

This album looks at some of the best encountered by the authors on a trip to Cuba. It also includes some architectural and general travel photography from that trip. Many of the photographs include the cars’ owners or other bystanders – so the book is not just for petrolheads.

A recent decision by the Cuban government makes it now possible for Cubans to buy imported cars (though some imports had been creeping in over the years, many from the former Eastern Europe – there is actually a Trabant in the background of one of the pictures! – but also from the Far East). However, the list prices are really extraordinarily high, and so probably out of the reach of many Cubans. More worryingly, I anticipate a shock when owners of the modern mass-produced cars find out that they will be very difficult to keep on the road with a ball pane hammer, three assorted spanners of non-standard sizes, a spare Russian truck engine and a stack of washing machine parts!

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