Is it the sumptuous inefficiency of those exaggerated fins and curvy bumpers? Is it the friendly smile of an old front grille? Or the dignity of really heavy metal? Is it the innocent joy in colors other than black, white and silver?
A short stroll around any Cuban town – especially Havana – reveals a Buena Vista Social Club of aging Pontiacs and Chevvies, Plymouths and Fords (to say nothing of long-lost DeSotos and Packards, Studebakers and Nashes). You see them parked along the sidestreets, waiting patiently to be admired by an enchanted photographer. You see them rolling past in the form of taxis trawling for fares. It’s like finding the certainties of your childhood again. And these solid certainties of yesteryear have survived for so long in Cuba.
I don’t really like cars, but I love the well-tended museum of vintage cars that is Cuba. Besides imparting a huge case of nostalgia, they beguile you with possible back-stories. Did that Cadillac maybe belong to the mob? Or to a movie star? What romantic evenings has that Buick witnessed?
They are relics from an innocent and unreflecting past: the “good old days” (which of course were not really that good) before complicated thinking and guilt about the environment started to cloud our enjoyment.