Enthusiastic tourists of all Nations can pull out their cameras: classic cars in every color put accents on memory images. What once was born out of necessity is now part of Cuban culture: cars from the 1950s and 1960s.
The answer to the revolution in Cuba was the US trade embargo in 1959. This was the reason why Cubans couldn´t buy new cars for decades. Since early 2014, the Cubans can now buy new cars without special government permission. Although the number of Asian vehicles on the streets is growing, classics like Chevrolet, Cadillac and Ford shape the face of the capital city of Havana.
In Cuba, partly curious classic cars evolved due to the embargo. And classic car enthusiasts are barely amazed how the resourceful Cubans help themselves despite sustained lack of spare parts – above and below the hood.
Estimates of approximately 60,000 vehicles, which somehow reminiscent of classic and vintage automobiles. The motto for mobility here: what doesn’t fit is made. A Mercedes Ponton sits on the chassis of a Chevrolet, a Ford from the 50s is shaky on the basis of a Lada, driving on the bumpy roads. A VW Beetle has joined in a wondrous wedding with an American base. Looking under the hood reveals much more. Historic from the outside and a modern inside – and because of the notorious lack of fuel, equipped with a diesel engine.
Here it doesn´t count what belongs together. It´s about pure driving. No matter how. Since the embargo, no new spare parts were delivered for the many Us cars filling the road were delivered. The Cubans helped themselves – each with more or less talent. They work with even tinkered and self made tools from kitchen appliances and other household utensils, formed new fenders from parts of former Soviet cars and made it truly amazing.
Who has hoped or feared, that classics in patinated condition would flood the market in the years after the laying of the embargo, may breathe through. None of this will happen. The reason is obvious: collectors in other parts of the world attach importance to „matching numbers“ and originality. And since Cuba has detected that the colourful classic taxis represent a space setting value in the tourism business, nothing is sold.
At the end of the 80s, the Government had yet seen elderly vehicles as a source of money and sold abroad. The owners were lured with some cash or a new LADA to sell their car.
The Cubans are smart. Not only in terms of screws and restoration. They quickly learned the money-making. Tourists looking for a motive and getting a vintage car in front of the lens, should be aware that somewhere someone jumps up, to get a reward for the beautiful posted subject.