Welcome to Cuba's automotive time capsule, filled with classic cars.
The story of how Cuba came to be trapped in automotive time is a fascinating one. For decades, the island country had enjoyed healthy tourism trade and American outpost status, and by the 1950s it had the highest per capita automotive purchasing of any Latin American country - its middle class ensured an interesting variety of vehicles plying the roads. But when Cuba fell to communist rebels in 1959, so ended the inflow of new cars. Since then, trade embargo forced Cuba's car enthusiasts to develop a unique and insular culture, one marked by great creativity, such as:
Keeping a car alive with no opportunity to acquire replacement parts
Customizing a car with no access to aftermarket parts
Drag racing with no drag strip
In many ways, Cuba is an automotive time warp, where the newest car is a 1959 Chevy or perhaps one of the Soviet Ladas. Cuba's Car Culture offers an inside look at a unique car culture, populated with cars that have been cut off from the world so long that they've morphed into something else in the spirit of automotive survival.
Authors Tom Cotter and Bill Warner (founder of the Amelia Island Concours) take readers of Cuba's Car Culture on a whirlwind tour of all things automotive, beginning with Cuba's pre-Castro car and racing history and bringing us up to today's lost collector cars, street racing, and the challenges of keeping decades-old cars on the road. The book is illustrated throughout with rare historical photos as well as contemporary photos of Cuba's current car scene. For anyone who enjoys classic cars, from old Chevy Bel-Airs to Studebakers to Ford Fairlanes, a cruise around Cuba will make you feel like a kid in a candy store.
Before writing his first book, Tom Cotter had long been involved in nearly every end of the automotive and racing industries. From mechanic and auto salesman to heading the public relations department at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Cotter formed his own racing and automotive PR and marketing agency, Cotter Group. The agency represented some of the largest clients in NASCAR, IndyCar/CART, drag racing and road racing. He has written biographies of the legendary Holman-Moody race team, Tommy Ivo and Dean Jeffries, but is best known for his series of barn find books, such as Cobra in the Barn , 50 Shades of Rust and Barn Find Road Trip. Cotter appears in the Barn Find Hunter video series, which is distributed by Hagerty Insurance. He teaches public relations at Belmont Abbey College, sits on the advisory board of McPherson College’s Auto Restoration program, and is a member of the Road Racing Driver’s Club (RRDC.) He is married to Pat, has one son, Brian, and lives in Davidson, N.C.
Bill Warner is founder of the Amelia Island Concours and also serves as president of his own business, H. C. Warner, Inc., an industrial filtration company. He also owns and operates Bill Warner Racing. Warner won the 2002 Meguiar's Award for Collector Car Hobby Person of the Year. Warner began as a "go-fer" for a racing team as a teenager and eventually began racing his own cars, competing in a variety of events. His writing and photography have been featured in Road & Track, as well as several European and Asian racing publications.
"Cuba’s Car Culture...is well written, with lots of political and racing history for background and context. The photos are great and leave the reader with a real sense of what it’s like there." - DeansGarage.com
"The resulting book is a gorgeous homage to an automotive life that will no doubt change as the island begins again to trade with the United States." - ShelfAwareness.com
"Writer Tom Cotter, photographer Bill Warner and automotive historian Wellington Morton give us page after page of glorious color photos and easy-to-digest narrative on the history of Cuba’s cars, the country and its proud people." - theCoastNews.com
"A beautifully photographed documentary of a summer 2015 visit by authors and automotive enthusiasts Tom Cotter and Bill Warner, and a history of the island’s intertwined politics and passion for cars." - San Francisco Chronicle