Saturday, December 28, 2013

1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Convertible Sedan

"In every part of the world where highways exist and quality is recognized, Cadillac has become the accepted symbol of automotive goodness. And certainly, this international affection for Cadillac has never been more soundly based — or more richly deserved — than it is at the present time. For the Cadillac car has never before been so bountiful in all those things which command respect and admiration in a motor car. In styling, in performance, in craftsmanship, and in practicality — it is the Standard of the World. We believe that an inspection and demonstration will prove this fact beyond question. Visit your dealer soon and learn for yourself why Cadillac is first in the world's esteem."

This mighty Cadillac from Varadero usually takes tourists on a sightseeing tour around the peninsula. The tourists enjoy the ride in the "authentic" drop-top, and not many take notice that Cadillac never offered a four-door convertible in 1959.

"Grancar", the state-owned company which operates this car, is quite infamous for quick cut-off jobs like this one for the sake of tourist entertainment. Seems like the Peso is earned easier with a convertible. Before the conversion, this car was a luxurious Fleetwood Sixty Special Sedan, as the embossed letters on its rear deck lid indicate. At least, they left the original V-8 engine installed.

Albán, the driver of this Cadillac, likes to pretend that he actually owns the car. But blue "chapas", numberplates of a state-owned vehicle, set him straight. However, for Cuban conditions, he's in a comfortable position: the Estado gives him this car and a monthly ration of fuel, and in return, he must do the maintenance and bring in cash at the end of the month. Private tours or extra work for the own pocket? No problem! The established Cuban system of rationing, rather than billing, fosters this kind of corruption. In common sense, it would be abnormal not to do it.

The only drawback of having a 1959 Cadillac is that no extra ride gets unnoticed. Wherever this thing shows up, it's turning heads. Anyway, the extra tours can't be long, as the V-8 engine quickly consumes the monthly fuel ration. So, Albán found another way to better his income: he's selling some of the Cadillac's fuel and cruises just a little slower...

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