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Only last Tuesday, I shared a small series of pictures with you of some of the fabulous pre-1960 American classics I encountered during a very short visit to Cuba. Inevitably, the experience had me searching for similar Yank Tanks on both Craigslist and eBay…

In case you didn’t read the Cuba article, or if you merely want to revisit it, follow this link: A Cuban Taster
Of course we all have our different preferences within the broad classic car scene, but surely we can all appreciate the history of these pre-1960 American classics roaming the streets of Cuba in both Havana and countryside alike. Personally I find that especially the fifties cars from the Land of Opportunity have a real charm, with their often bulbous and shapely bodies with relatively high waistlines and limited glasshouse. While I’m sure no European would ever call them small cars, they are none the less often a lot more compact than the massive landyachts which followed in the next decade. They are certainly something quite different from what we got in Europe during the fifties, yet they actually somehow make more sense on our narrower roads than does a late 60’s Eldorado or Tornado.

There is great diversity among the American classics present in Cuba, but in particular the Chevrolet 150 / 210 / Bel Air is fairly common. Many of them are base 4-door versions displaying heavy patina from a full life as a taxi. It seems to me that all the hype (both in the US and in Europe) is about the second generation from 1955 – 1957, but somehow it was the earlier first generation cars which caught my eye during that short visit to the island just off the coast of Florida.

The 150 and the 210 were introduced in 1953. They shared the same body and mechanical components, but varied in trim level. Sitting at the very top of the range was the glitzy Bel Air. However, it was the 210 which became Chevrolet’s best selling model in both that first year and even the following year. The 210 offered almost all of the Bel Air’s luxury appointments which weren’t available in the base 150-series, yet the 210 was still cheaper than the posh Bel Air. There were also a variety of body styles available right from a four-door saloon, a two-door coupé, two-door hardtop and two-door convertible to a stationwagon. However, the ’53 and ’54 cars had to make due with the 235 cu.in. straight-6 Blue Flame engine ,rather than the V8’s of the second generation, which is probably a large factor in why the second generation is so much more popular now. But as those second generation cars became more and more collectable, the prices also went north! As such, it seems to me that you get an awful lot of Americano for your buck with the earlier cars.

In my trawling through the world wide net, it was a four-door Chevrolet 210 that suddenly stood out for all the right reasons. This 1954 Chevy would be the perfect classic to reenact a Cuban taxi scene from – only it’s of course in much too unmolested and original condition. But surely that’s a good thing!

This particular 210 is for sale with a dealer in Chicago, who claims there is documentation to prove that it’s a 1-owner car with only 25,000 miles on the clock. They go on to explain in quite some detail the condition of both body, paint, chrome, interior and mechanical components. All is said to be in very good and tidy condition and equally very original. It’s said to have received a respray in the factory Bermuda green colour, but is otherwise unrestored both in and out. The matching numbers 3.9-liter straight-6 is said to start at first turn of the key, idle steady and cool, and drive faultlessly through a 3-speed manual on the column. After a long duration of dry-storage with a collector, the dealer has changed all fluids and goes on to say that the Chevy is ready to be driven anywhere. However, they do also mention that while the white wall tyres have plenty of thread, they are also quite old, so should really be swapped for a new set if the next owner intends to drive the 210. There are a very impressive 84 detailed pictures with the advert, some of which you can see here:

As always, any classic car should naturally be thoroughly inspected before purchase – either by yourself or a ppi by a specialist. However I must confess that it’s a pleasure to come across adverts like this one, where there’s more pictures than I know what to do with and a detailed description to compliment the pictures. It all adds up to feel very confidence inspiring. Judge for yourself by clicking here: 1954 Chevrolet 210

Of course this ’54 Chevy is way too good to truly radiate that Cuba vibe. But I’m smitten with the history and originality. If it really presents as well as the dealer suggests, it seems to me that you’re getting a fabulous American fifties cruiser for the whole family at the US $ 18,900 which the dealer is asking. That price currently equates to £ 13,650 or Euro 15,450, on top of which will obviously come some shipping costs and import costs depending on where you’re having the 210 delivered to. To fulfil the Cuban fantasy, I suppose the next owner will just have to imagine he’s cruising around Cuba in the mid to late 50’s rather than in 2018, where a Cuban classic is highly unlikely to be in such an unmolested state…

 

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

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3 Responses

  1. Claus Ebberfeld
    That is a LOT of stylish car for the money and that history. I am not sure it is MY style, but it is a very charming car anyway. Absolutely love the colour combination.
    Reply
  2. Anders Bilidt
    I largely agree with you Claus, in that I think it’s a beautiful old classic with amazing history, yet it’s probably not really my type of car. In saying that, we often end up talking about ‘keepers’ or ‘classic car swinging’. While I am no doubt more inclined to having keepers, I would actually love to break with my usual pattern of classics I end up owning, and instead trying something like this charming ’54 Chevy. I seriously doubt it would ever become a keeper for me, but it would no doubt be fun to try for a year or two and then move on to something different, knowing that I’ve ticked another box…
    Reply
  3. Claus Ebberfeld
    I can relate to that way of thinking, Anders – only when it comes to putting my money where my mouth is, I usually chicken out and go for more secure grounds. For me and my knowlegde, that is.

    Either that or the timing is simply not right. Like in – “now” is not the time. Unless the seller would take a LHD Renault 5 GT Turbo in part exhange?!?!?

    Reply

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