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Used Parts Bin: Cuba and 3 Hams

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Used Parts Bin: Cuba and 3 Hams

Bill Crittenden
December 19, 2014


Cuba

Geopolitical and American electoral ramifications aside, because this isn't the place for it, I have a couple of car-related ponderings regarding America's new diplomatic relations with Cuba.

If the trade embargo on Cuba is lifted, will the Cuban road scene no longer be frozen in the late 1950's? I personally think that keeping 50's cars on the roads of Havana should be encouraged, it's one of the charming and unique things about the island that can be used for the tourism industry that might spring up.

But more importantly, what about the cars that aren't currently in running condition? What kind of pristine "barn finds" await Americans on the island now?

Click and Clack

Tom Magliozzi, of the famous Magliozzi brothers' radio show Car Talk, passed away at the beginning of last month. iPhone's recent operating system update included a handy Podcasts app that connects to free podcasts you used to have to go searching for through iTunes or the internet.

NPR is playing the best classic episodes of from their archives, and aside from the 1992 Volkswagens with only 20,000 miles on them, the show is timeless.

Pork Kebab

I had a CB radio on my car in the late 1990's and a few years into the 2000's. But then I got a cell phone and it was pretty pointless.

Worse than pointless, I thought it was dangerous. I wondered if the wire from the antenna to the radio would direct lightning into the vehicle.

So imagine my surprise when driving through Woodstock and seeing what looked like an early 1990's Honda Accord with what looked like an eight foot antenna complete with a curled part near the bottom and four prongs coming out of the sides near the base.

A ham radio antenna, I presume. Which makes me wonder 1.) just who the driver is talking to on that thing, 2.) if it can even fit in a McDonald's drive thru, 3.) if the Illinois hands free law applies to CB & ham radios or just cell phones, 4.) does the person still have a cell phone for emergencies, 5.) if so, why not just call the person on the phone, and 6.) how has that driver not been killed by a lightning strike with an eight foot lightning rod on top of their car?

Old Cars

Cars haven't changed that much lately. Fifteen years ago you could tell easily which cars were new by their clear headlight lenses. Before that, it was the change from square to flowing styles. Long before that, yearly body style changes let everyone on the road know exactly what year of car you drove.

My 2003 Pontiac Vibe sure doesn't have a lot of differences between it and a brand new car. If you'd never seen one before, you might not guess it was almost twelve years old.

You know when she feels old? Every time I have to burn a damn CD to change the music in it.

And just what am I going to do when I can't get cheap blank CDs at Walmart or my next computer doesn't have a CD-ROM drive? I'll be no different than the poor folks stuck with cassette player.



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