Anyone who’s made the journey to Key West by car knows that it’s a bit of a drive. Travelling down US1 from Miami is about a four-hour trip, and with an average speed limit of 45–50 miles per hour, it’s more scenic tour than quick commute. But that can be part of the appeal: crossing over 42 bridges along the way and, for the most part, being surrounded by the bright blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico make for a picturesque road trip down to Mile Zero. Plus, the inevitably slow pace only helps to prepare you for what the locals like to call “Keys time” — that is, the laidback, no-hurry attitude of a city at the very bottom of the States.
It’s no surprise, then, that for many vehicles, Key West proves to be their final resting place. Along with the many happy retirees that call the island home, come their faithful four-wheeled companions. And just as the city boasts an eclectic bunch of residents (hippie society dropouts mixed with wealthy sun-seekers), so too do their cars vary in style. On any one day you might spot a shiny new Mustang driving alongside a beat-up old Alfa. Or an old convertible Stingray coasting past a Dodge Ram kitted out in Yves saint Laurent livery.
You’re also unlikely to cruise the streets without spying one of the city’s classic painted cars. As a famed artists’ haven, even Key West’s cars become the canvas, whether it’s a colourful sealife mural or a mosaic of shells from bumper to bumper. So while the Southernmost City is commonly known for its stunning sunsets, Old Town architecture, chilled bar scene and freshly caught seafood, for the car fan, a bit of carspotting is a worthy past-time in itself.
Some of the lovelies I observed during my recent trip: