CARACAS, Venezuela — Ascending the narrow streets that wind through this city’s hillside slums, the graffiti steadily gets more radical and anti-American, repeatedly proclaiming “Yankees go home!” amid murals denouncing President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
But at the same time, the cars get bigger — as in ’70s-style, gas-guzzling, Starsky-and-Hutch, Ford-Gran-Torino big — and American.
“We like our cars to be like tanks in this country, meaning they should be huge, comfortable and preferably manufactured in the United States,” said Miguel Delgado, 52, a mechanic in Los Frailes, a slum on this city’s western fringe, where he was working on a 1976 Dodge Coronet and a 1979 Chevrolet Impala.
The survival here of so many retro-chic American gas hogs, from Plymouth Valiants to Dodge Aspens and Chrysler New Yorkers, owes partly to the vagaries of Venezuela’s recent history and partly to its oil wealth. Motorists say that they drive these cars simply because they can. They smile when they hear that gasoline prices in the United States average about $3 a gallon, and much higher in parts of Europe.