In the modern age, the car is a machine, a tool, something utilitarian. Features are added to meet regulations or to make you spend your money on something slightly better than what you had, or so Brand A can win a spec sheet comparison against Brand B. There’s very, very little soul; whatever little there is has to be engineered in. I don’t think this is the case with cars that are 50, 60, even 70+ years old; even if they had no soul to begin with, over the years they’ve certainly acquired patina, and with it, a history.
Two things stuck with me about Cuban cars: firstly, the new stuff – mostly Korean, some Chinese, sone French – just looks dull and cheap compared to even the most patina’ed (putting it kindly) of the vintage vehicles. Secondly, the people really look after them – mostly because if they didn’t, there’d be no transport. A car is your friend, a family member, probably about the same age as your grandfather and not treated that differently. Everybody seems to be a taxi – you’ve got to make your extra income somehow. And then there’s the arm on the door, or curled around the roof rail – the latter is probably because you need something to hold on to when your suspension is an old mattress and the seats are benches, but the former – I can’t understand. It’s hot in Havana; hot enough that you should be very cautious before touching anything that might be metal. Yet the Cubans willingly roast their arms on the sides of their cars; much like an arm draped around a partner.
I’ve tried to capture some of that spirit here, but alas, I feel I’d need longer to truly do this project justice. Enjoy the set; you may recognise some of these from the recent Ultraprint Edition 2. MT
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