Just about everyone thinks about classic American cars when they think about visiting Cuba and some say that Cuba is home to more classic cars in use than perhaps anywhere else. For sure, there are more classics on the road as “everyday drivers” there than anywhere else.
As a good red-blooded American male, I am particularly excited about seeing all of those old cars, most of which are American made classics from the 40s and 50s. The US led embargo enforced for over 55 years, combined with the very low, $60/month average income for most Cubans has made it is nearly impossible for anyone to purchase new cars and it’s very tough to keep those on the road in running condition.
Most of the cars on the road today have been lovingly maintained and passed down from generation to generation all the while being held together with “spit and bailing wire” by their very resourceful owners. Here in the US, classic car owners are focused on keeping their cars in as original condition as possible, using factory correct parts. It’s very different in Cuba and the need to keep their to keep cars running for daily use, means using whatever parts they can make or scrounge along the way. Apparently, it is not uncommon to see GM cars that have engines from completely different makes, perhaps Russian or European cars, a practice that would horrify American collectors.
I looked at a fair number of videos on the subject and I think that this 2o minute segment is one of the best. The narrator provides interesting commentary about the car culture of Cuba and what it takes to keep these rolling antiques on the road. At the end of the segment he, along with two guests, explore what the lifting of the embargo may mean for the future of these cars as American collectors arrive. Under the current government it is not legal to sell cars for export which has kept the cars in Cuba for decades.Of course, seeing all of this will depend on my getting approval to visit so for now it’s all speculation. Fingers crossed as now is certainly the time to visit before the “time capsule” that is Cuba is unfrozen and opened up for ever.