With all this talk of Cuba, it's easy to get swept up in the soon-realities of fine cigars, tropical vacations, and restored political relationships. But, as Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky (and many others) have pointed out, Cuba's car culture is the most exciting aspect of the country's newfound accessibility to us in the States.
The most beautiful car on Cuba's Caribbean shore, the one you should care about most? This rusted out shell of a Mercedez-Benz 300SL gullwing, immortalized through photo by a man named Piotr Degler.
Degler photographed the old Merc for his calendar, Carros de Cuba, an exceptionally accurately titled and practical display of the country's truly one-of-a-kind automotive culture. Not as cute as puppies, but still a great place to write down your dentist appointments.
Unlike your typical car calendar though, this one has taste- oh, and is loaded with stunningly beautiful and raw images of Cuba's carscape in its natural habitat. Torchinsky may have a hankering for a taste of the ingenious shade-tree engineering that's kept hordes of old Chevys plugging along on Soviet engines, but those unlucky jaloppies that didn't survive the times are just as interesting, at least to look at.
The video found on Degler's website is an emotional testament to the country's car culture itself, with beautifully neo-nostalgic imagery of tailfins of decades past against the lush Cuban terroir. Even the scenes of the old pastel'd beautifies chugging down the neighborhood streets are enough to incite envy in any petrolhead.
Why can't the domestic carscape be so pretty?
Degler found the derelict 300SL, after a long and adventurous hunt, situated complacently under a banana tree. Long past patina, this pinnacle of German design now attempts to rejoin the Earth. Beyond salvage, eerily dark and emotive photos are all this car is good for now.
Here's hoping for a better fate for the rest of Cuba's not-as-well-hidden gems.
Photo credit: Piotr Degler