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Hemingway’s Chrysler gets a new lease on life in Cuba

For roughly a half century, the Chrysler New Yorker served as the carmaker’s flagship sports coupe/sedan. This vehicle is considered one of the best looking models to ever grace America’s roadways. The New Yorker was so impressive, in fact, that it had several high-profile fans who swore by the the 1955 model as their ride of choice. Perhaps the most prolific fan of this lineup was legendary American author and badass Ernest Hemingway, whose 1955 New Yorker convertible was a known menace on the streets of mid-century Havana, Cuba.

It took a while for both Chrysler and Hemingway fans to determine that a New Yorker convertible in a small Cuban suburb that was discovered back in 2010 was actually the legendary coupe driven by the author during the 1950s. However, award-winning travel journalist Christopher Baker did his homework and was able to verify that a relatively intact antique convertible in the small village of San Francisco de Paula was indeed the writer’s whip.

Now, the mystery car is getting even more press as a British documentary crew and a 1970s television heartthrob have teamed up to restore the car and bring its story to the big screen.

David Soul, the actor and singer best known for playing Hutch in the television classic “Starsky & Hutch,” narrates and stars in this new documentary, entitled “Cuban Soul.” The story follows Soul and a team of gearheads as they struggle to make the restoration a reality. While the car was discovered in relatively good shape, there is one major hurdle that the team faced in bringing the Chrysler back to pristine working condition – geography.

The Chrysler New Yorker is, after all, an American car, and although the Cold War has been over for decades, the United States still has a trade embargo with Cuba. This means that anyone in that country hoping to get authentic car parts for a rare American classic will have a heck of a time getting them through customs, and getting the car out of the country would be an even bigger challenge.

The 1955 New Yorker is such a special model because it was among the first Chryslers to trim down the previously fashionable high roof line of its predecessors and instead feature a more grounded and streamlined silhouette. Not only was this vehicle quite the looker, but it could really move compared to other cars at the time. Chrysler dropped a 250 horsepower Hemi under the hood for the 1955 model year, making this model one of the fastest in the lineup. This would start a trend at the company of continually upping the ante to make cars faster than the competition that would change the American roadway markedly over the next two decades.

“Cuban Soul” is still in production down in Cuba as the team works to make sure that the car is restored to its complete working condition before calling it wraps. And considering the political climate that exists between the United States and Cuba, it could be a while. Whether you’re a news junky or simply a fan of classic car reconstruction, this is a story not to be missed.

Are you excited to see how Hemingway’s Chrysler turns out when all is said and done?

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One comment

  1. WOW! What a story, will definitely want to see this. These are great cars even without the history.

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