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November 19 Weekly Open Thread: The Forlorn Expat Chevy

I snapped the accompanying photo on one of the back streets of Cairo recently and seeing a fine old American sedan rather piteously sitting in the street like that made me a little sad. American cars aren't all that prevalent here in Egypt, primarily because they've traditionally been far too large for the generally tight and crowded streets and roads here. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the bulk of the cars here -- until recently -- were something like captive imports: older European and Russian models IMG_0389produced locally along with some higher-end imports for the well-heeled, which tend to be Mercedes-Benz's. After a government initiative to remove the old clunkers from the roads, the older models have been replaced by newer imports, most from Asian countries: China, Japan, and South Korea. Egypt has also begun manufacturing some of their own versions of at least Chinese models as well.

But you occasionally see some American iron around. Back in the '90s I was shocked to see an early '70s Chevelle muscle car cruising around, though I wasn't able to ascertain whether it was driven by a local or an expat American. I've also been treated to the odd classic Mustang or two. Jeep Cherokees have also been rather popular with the off-road crowd. I even saw a mid-70s GM sedan prowling the streets of Cairo shortly after arriving this year. But that rather just underscores the point that there really aren't that many. GM, I think, has been making more of a push lately, and I drove past one of their showrooms with a threesome of full-size Silverado pickups sitting out front. Will Egyptians take to the US pickup craze? Too soon to tell, although their smaller Chevrolet cousins are fairly common. Only time will tell I guess.

Our particular car here -- one of the 1977-1990 "New" Chevrolets -- seems to have been there quite a while. Both streetside tires are flatter than a pancake, and it even appears that the road may have actually been paved around it. Truly a forlorn piece of Americana. For myself, I had a wild urge to buy the dumb thing for a song (heck, I could probably just haul it away), get it running, and bomb around the highways and biways of Egypt with Stone Temple Pilots or something similar blasting out the windows. Call me crazy.

So, readers, weight in: What are the odd contexts you've seen American vehicles in? Or any other model that seems a bit rare and out of place. And, as always, this is the place to discuss anything and everything car-related.

Credits: Photo by me.

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My main thing is going to other countries and seeing domestic brands selling models they don't sell here at home.
Now I have developed a thing about it. I always take pictures. I also take pictures of foreign brands that don't sell their best models here, but that's a different story.

I remember back in the early '90s in Argentina they were still selling Ford Falcons, I think. They hadn't changed much.

Back when I was in Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm circa 1990-91, large American cars were actually quite common over there. The large American car of choice there at the time seemed to be (wait for it...) the Mercury Grand Marquis! I swear those damn things were everywhere - more common than camels, it seemed.

I still remember one of the most bizarre American car sightings was when I was in Switzerland in the summer of 1986, I was on a tour bus going thru the Alps and we went thru a one-lane tunnel. As soon as we get thru the tunnel and it turned back into 2 lanes, I remember the distinct sound of a V8 roar and (what sounded like) glass-pack exhausts.

Needless to say it got my attention, and damned if it wasn't a near-mint black 70 Chevelle SS with the white stripes that was passing our bus (couldn't tell if it was a 396 or 454). It also had Swiss plates on it, so I'm guessing it was a local that owned it and not some American GI stationed nearby. Bummer is, by the time I dug my camera out of my duffel bag to get a shot of it, it was long gone :-/

It looks like they paved under the car while it was still parked there.

The best example I can give has got to be a Korean-made Ssangyoung SUV that I saw a couple of years ago at the local supermarket. I think it was a Kyron (look it up). Being that we can only get what the U.S. is allowed to get, I wondered how the heck did that thing get into the country.

Then I looked at the license plate: They were Dominican Republic plates. I wondered about the ferry regulations... From the west coast to the supermarket is 70+ miles. And there's definitely no shortage whatsoever of convenience stores and stuff along the way!
Regardless of their reasons, I bet it must've made an interesting road-trip.

The other time, also a couple of years ago, there were some odd-looking (Chinese, perhaps?) pick-up trucks that were sitting in a lot near an avenue full of new-car dealers. Never saw any like 'em again.

Funny, it's this post that makes me wonder why I haven't seen more interesting machinery on our roads visiting from the Dominican Republic... aside from an antique car club that visits on the big shows and that drift team invited for an exhibition match (they had a real S15 Nissan Silvia!!).

While on my way to church one morning in Parsons Green, London I saw a turquoise 1958 Cadillac convertible inching its way down a narrow side street just off the King's Road.

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Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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