IN THE WORKS!… AN EXCITING NEW BOOK BY CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER
After receiving his 1954 Nobel Prize, Hemingway rewarded himself with a sleek Chrysler New Yorker DeLuxe convertible, made to order in two-tone Navajo Orange and Desert Sand, for $3,924. One of only fifty-nine New Yorkers built for export that year, the auto was delivered on 28 February 1955 to Miami for shipment to Autos Comiac S.A. in Havana. Its 331 cubic inch V-8 FirePower engine produced an impressive 250 ponies with the aid of four-barrel carbs. “It was a fast, racy, powerful, macho car for a powerful, racy, macho kind of guy,” says Chrysler aficionado, Chris Paquin.
In 1961, following the Revolution, Finca Vigía (‘Lookout Farm’), his hilltop home in the Havana suburb of San Francisco de Paula, was seized by the Castro government (“donated to the people of Cuba” is the euphemism), though the author had willed it to his wife, Mary Welsh. The Chrysler was willed to his doctor, José Luis Herrera Sotolongo, who Hemingway befriended during the Spanish Civil War before Sotolongo fled Franco’s regime for Cuba. The car passed to Sotolongo’s son, then through various family hands until eventually sold in 1982 to a Cuban policeman—Agustín Núñez Gutiérrez—who departed Cuba in 1994.
Then the car vanished!
Legends arose… Gutiérrez had secreted the car out of Cuba… No, he hid the car and hopped on a raft for Miami… Some even claimed it was buried! The Chrysler’s whereabouts ever since remained a mystery. A much-sought-after treasure awaiting discovery as some incredibly fortunate collector’s dream.
In 2011, journalist Christopher P. Baker broke the story that the Chrysler’s wrecked and wretched hulk had been recovered by the Museo Ernest Hemingway, in Havana. Baker immediately became involved in assisting the car’s restoration by resourceful repairmen struggling against odds we can barely imagine… not least the difficulty of sourcing replacement parts due to the U.S. embargo.
Enter stage left David Soul—today a British citizen and Cubaphile living in London. In June 2013, Soul signed a letter of agreement with Cuba’s National Heritage Council promising to secure the desperately needed parts in exchange for exclusive rights to make a cinematic documentary about the restoration.
Five decades since Soul burst onto television screens as Detective Ken Hutchinson in Starsky & Hutch, the ‘70s heartthrob actor found himself on a mission to complete one final assignment… little realizing that he would find himself up against U.S. hardliners and Cuban bureaucrats every bit as insidious as the pimps and pushers he once chased around fictional Bay City in Starsky’s supercharged red Ford Torino.
In Hemingway’s Chrysler, Baker offers a rare insider’s view to regale a complete history of the infamous vehicle, including how Soul’s ever-metastasizing ordeal is a metaphor for the dysfunctional relationship between these closest of neighbors.
“Hemingway often walked in the little plaza without a name. He would be seen there in his Bermudas and long-billed visor cap, after one more battle at sea, quiet but happy, looking for his Chrysler.”
HEMINGWAY IN CUBA by Norberto Fuentes
“Your writing is excellent and the saga is gripping”
JAMES RICKMAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, Playboy