Owning and enjoying Mustangs in the United States is something we Americans take for granted. Parts for repair or restoration are readily available through hundreds of vendors, there's always someone nearby who can help with problems, and if you're interested in picking up a new one for your collection, well, there's plenty to choose from. Eric de Cuba can only wish things were so easy on the Dutch island of Aruba, located in the Caribbean Sea about 1,100 miles southeast of Cuba and just a few miles north of Venezuela.
Now 68, Eric first heard about Ford's new Mustang through his cousin, who was attending college in the U.S. and returned to his home island with news about a new Ford vehicle that was consistently sold out. Within a couple years, Mustangs began showing up in Aruba, either imported in small numbers by local dealers or by Americans working at the oil refineries at the south end of the island. Eric finally got a Mustang of his own in 1984 when he became the third owner of a 1965 convertible.
"That was the beginning of our Mustang lives," relays Eric's son, Eric Jr. "That car is still with our family—it's now mine! My father also acquired a 1967 fastback and a 1968 hardtop for my siblings."
When Eric Sr. retired in 1995, he bought himself a present—a 1973 Mustang convertible that he purchased in Florida and had transported to Aruba by container ship.
"He's been enjoying it ever since with regular maintenance and some minor repairs when needed," adds Eric Jr. "Owning a Mustang in Aruba is actually not that hard thanks to the proximity to the U.S. Getting parts does take money and time. Heavier items come by ship; lighter ones arrive as airplane cargo."
It may be a little more difficult to maintain a vintage Mustang in Aruba, but the good news is that the constantly beautiful weather allows year-round driving. There's no cold weather or snow, with temperatures averaging in the high 80s with a cooling trade wind at all times. And with little rain, Eric can always keep the top-down.
For such a small island, Eric has plenty of company when it comes to Mustangs. There's even a Mustang Club of Aruba (yes, the MCA—see "One Happy Club" in the March 2008 issue), which Eric co-founded in 1997 with Doque Croeze and Maky Kelly. Today, over 50 members own over 75 Mustangs, old and new. Eric is a frequent visitor to the club's unofficial headquarters, Doque's Urataka Center bar and grille, but he's also been known to slip over to the U.S. for major Mustang events, including Carlisle, the "other" MCA's Grand National in 1999, the Mustang 35th Anniversary show in Charlotte, and the 45th in Birmingham.
If you're vacationing in Aruba and spot a yellow '73 Mustang convertible on the narrow roadways, give the driver a wave. For sure it's Eric De Cuba out for a top-down cruise.