The fifth episode of Cuban Chrome airs tonight, August 10th, at 10/9c. Cuban Chrome is a groundbreaking new docu-series that explores the time warp that characterizes Cuban car culture. This is the first American television series to be produced entirely on location in Cuba and will be simulcast in English on Discovery Channel and in Spanish on Discovery en Espanol.
An estimated 60,000 vintage American cars exist in Cuba, left there in 1959 when Fidel Castro came to power. Two years later, a U.S. embargo cut off the flow of new American cars and parts to the island nation.
Here is a synopsis of past episodes:
Episode 1 – Stuck in a Time Warp
The first episode introduces the concept of the story and the main characters. For those who have not seen the series yet, the concept mirrors other American docu-dramas; the refreshing twist with Cuban Chrome is the ingenuity employed by Cuban mechanics to solve problems with little resources. The series also offers a glimpse into the personal lives of the main characters their families.
Fernando, one of Havana’s top mechanics, bets his life’s savings on restoring a ’58 Chevy Bel-Air, but his assistant, Roberto, thinks he’s out of his mind. Meanwhile, cabbie Demetrio’s ’53 Oldsmobile breaks down and his family must scour Havana to find a rare part – the start of a long journey with the Olds.
Episode 2 – By By Boat Motor
Dayan starts an apprenticeship with respected auto mechanic, Ricardo, but when they work on a ’59 Cadillac, viewers are introduced to the tension between the two characters.
Demetrio and sons struggle with the Oldsmobile restoration. When a friend reneges on the sale of an engine, the family is left hanging with a disassembled car that lacks an engine. Demetrio frets over loss of the family’s income source from operating the Olds as a taxi catering to Cubans.
Episode 3 – Crack-Shafted
Roberto finds out the Bel-Air’s crankshaft and pistons are damaged.
Demetrio agrees to the $2,000 asking price for a new engine in hopes that going “all in” will resolve the crisis. He’s short of cash but devises a plan to cover the costs.
Episode 4 – Out with the Olds
Ricardo is disappointed with Dayan’s work, despite Dayan’s efforts. Ricardo dismisses Dayan after seeing sloppy work on his ’59 Austin-Healey, but gives him another chance on a job fixing a vintage Mercedes the next day.
Demetrio takes odd jobs and scours junkyards for cheap parts. When his welder flakes out, Demetrio enlists a mechanic friend and learns all the previous welding work done on his car so far must be re-done. The family rallies around the crisis.
Episode 5 (tonight) (spoiler) – Go Go Embargo
Cubans watch press conference in which President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announce that the U.S. and Cuba are re-establishing diplomatic relations. Michael tells his father, Demetrio, shocking news of his own: he’s leaving Cuba to study in Mexico on a scholarship.
Photo credit: Discover Channel