Replica of seafaring 1951 Chevy truck on display in Miami

Motorists traveling along Southwest Eighth Street in Miami have been slowing down to check out a fluorescent green 1951 Chevy pickup parked in front of the Maroone Chevrolet dealership.

It's not for sale, though.

Consider the retrofitted antique a salute to the imagination of the so-called Cuban "truck-o-nauts.''

During the summer of 2003, an identical model was ingeniously adapted to float in calm waters. The truck was ''driven'' across the Florida Straits all the way from Cuba, hauling 12 Cuban refugees seeking new lives in the United States.

Although the group was intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard and the '51 Chevy sunk by the guns of a cutter, the tale of the amphibious pickup circled the world. To the Cuban exile community, it became a symbol of the ingenuity and perseverance of people trying to escape Cuba.

The truck on display pays homage to the original. It cost $100,000 to build.

''My dream was to build a replica of the truck that was used in the first attempt, to keep it as a museum piece. And here it is, six years after the voyage, it's incredible,'' said Luis Grass, 41, the man who came up with the idea of the seafaring truck and made history by escaping from Cuba twice in amphibious vehicles.

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