Chariots of Chrome: Classic American Cars of Cuba


144 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55046-394-2
DDC 629.222'097291




Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


One of the great ironies of the Cold War is that the world’s largest
collection of functioning vintage Americans cars is in Communist hands.
That is because, in 1960, the American government imposed a trade
embargo on Castro’s Cuba, so nearly all of that country’s
automobiles are pre-1960 vintage. For antique-car lovers, a stroll down
any Cuban street is akin to a romp in a candy shop for a hungry kid.
Hudsons, Packards, Ramblers, and Studebakers—cars that have long
disappeared from American and Canadian roads—are common sights.

This book, by veteran photojournalists Simon Bell and George Fischer,
is labour of love. Scores of cars are featured, some looking as if they
just rolled out of the showroom, others appearing to be held together
with wire and cigar bands. The two vintage-car enthusiasts not only
profile the cars and their owners, who are often the third or fourth
generation of their family to drive the cars, they also profile life for
the average Cuban in the 21st century. Crushing poverty, a blockade, and
five decades under a dictatorship have yet to break the Cuban spirit.

Part documentary, part travelogue, and part social commentary, Chariots
of Chrome is a lovely, fascinating coffee-table book.


Bell, Simon, and George Fischer., “Chariots of Chrome: Classic American Cars of Cuba,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,