Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cuba 300SL Gullwing Galore

Hey, thanks for stopping by. We know you have been hungry for more Cuban Gullwing, and you have patiently waited for two years for more photos. Well, the time has come. Your wait is over.

If you are not familiar with the story, click here. And if you are a native Spanish speaker, try this.
Before we start, take a second to like >>THIS EUROPEAN LIFE<< on Facebook. It's worth it!

Now, there have been rumors, some of them spread on overly reputable platforms, that the car was discovered last December by an automotive photographer in search for cool content for his $65 calendar. This very same photographer contacted us back in January 2014 for advice, and much like the journalists who brought attention to his story, failed to give credit where it's due, even after politely requesting to do so. So, instead of ignoring these people, let's remember them:

The first person who reported the discovery of one of the 300SL's was journalist Jeremy Clarkson, who filmed the 300SL roadster in 1996 while shooting his Motorworld series in Cuba (watch here, minute 23:58). As for the Gullwing, we are not sure. Journalist Michael E. Ware wrote about it in 2008 and provided photos in December, 2009, to the web's undisputed authority on Cuban Cars, Caristas. While talking to the Gullwing's custodian, I was shown Alex Finigan's business card, yet it's not clear whether he found it before Ware or Clarkson. Still, he's kept awfully quiet about it! Then, in November 2012, we thought it would be a great idea to hunt for some rust.

If you wish to read a detailed year-by-year chronology, don't miss this article on Caristas.

Enough with the rant, here are the pictures. These were part of a secret album at the time, but after two years, we are thinking it's time to share them with all gearheads out there. Enjoy!

This was the very first photo I took of the Cuban 300SL's, the way they lied on the owner's yard.

The Gullwing's gas tank had been shoved through the back window. I took it off for the shoot.

Notice how the gullwing door cross-member has snapped clean.

Wait, there's still some original 300SL glass left!

Enough to make a bodyman crazy. Still, worse cars have been restored.

Original ivory wheel, with some of the VDO dials intact.

We wonder where the original 6-cylinder went, but are thankful it hasn't been replaced with a Russian diesel.

Despite the sheet-metal rust, the Gullwing's characteristic space frame seems to be in OK condition.

Steelies are original, and we believe the owner to have sold a few hubcaps.

It's a pity that the stylish fender flares are gone.

Owner has no intention to sell. Don't even ask, it's been said over and over!

Miguel Llorente bravely adventures into a certain chance for a Tetanus shot...

With the original seats missing, it was slightly more uncomfortable than the average Cuban taxi.

A crowning shot for one of my life's most rewarding quests!

8,000 RPM maximum? Not bad!

I do wonder if the 300SL will surpass 63,500 miles in my own lifetime, or just rust away...

Now, on to the Roadster, in significantly better condition.

The car had been driven all the way up until the 1980's. Then, somewhere in the 90's, it was left to rot.

May not be fully appreciated here, but the grille star is fully handmade out of stainless steel!

The interior has been replaced with stainless steel, yet it keeps a lot of its original dash.

Surprisingly enough, one of the doors open and closed perfectly after decades of neglect!

Ashtray and rearview mirror mount. Dials below are aftermarket.

Arguably an upgrade from its original powerplant: a 1950's Corvette engine!

I quickly learned that Cubans make their own windshields. This one was in remarkable shape.

Madr by A. V. CH Jhonny (Name of the car?). Floors rebuilt in 1986.

Well, that finalizes the Gullwing chapter in This European Life. It's been quite a ride since then, full of dramatic accidents, failed job prospects and lots of lost savings. Yet, when I look at this pictures, and remember the courage and determination that kept me pushing through, I know there is still a lot of road ahead, full of more exciting and colorful people, events, failures and successes.

Dear fans: as I struggle in my native Spain, I have a request stronger than any "likes" you may give my Facebook page. On May 5th I will be notified on the selection process for the Green Card Diversity Lottery to make way into full permanent residence in the USA. I sincerely hope I get it, now more than ever. I simply ask you that you pray, or send positive karma into this big Universe of ours, and wish that I get the opportunity to be return to the country that gave the chance to be great.

Thank you and good night!
—Miguel Llorente

1 comment:

  1. Thanx Miguel ;

    I traveled Centro America in the mid 1970's and saw many many Classics like this rotting away .

    The gull wing probably did have that dreaded Lada Diesel engine at one point ~ look at the poorly cobbled up motor mounts crudely arc welded to the front cross member .

    Best of luck with the Green Card , America needs more hard working immigrants like you .