Classic Cars in Cuba

Posted on February 17, 2016. Under Culture.

When picturing Cuba, one envisions beautiful beaches, some lively dancing to good music, a cigar of course, and classic 1950’s cars cruising the streets.

About 60,000 classic cars are still running, driving the streets of Cuba. These cars are a physical reminder of the trade embargo the country has suffered under, especially transport in Cuba, with Castro decrying all foreign car imports as illegal in 1959. Since then, the cars on the street have remained the same and over time, turned classic.

Classic Cars in Havana, Cuba

Classic Cars in Cuba Worth Millions of Dollars

With trade sanctions lifting, collectors the world over are curious to know the worth of some of the automobile gems, especially when a photo of a Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing was made public by photographer Piotar Degler. A car from the Cuban Gran Prix, this iconic find is worth over a million dollars.

But before you start planning on buying a car and bringing it home, remember that this isn’t a typical collector’s piece. This car has been driven, daily, out of necessity for decades. And the reason it still runs fifty years later isn’t magic but ingenuity.

New, foreign parts were also not allowed into the country, so each car has been maintained and updated with a hodgepodge mix of whatever could be used or found, or illegally smuggled.  Modified, customised and handmade pieces come together in a Cuban-made puzzle of engineering. Under each hood is an amalgam of various brands and models.

car workshop

If you’re thinking of restoring one, this will set you back over 40k and you can buy a properly maintained version in your home country for well under this amount. It won’t have as cool of a story though. The appeal of owning a car from Cuba is certainly understandable. But the romance of the vehicle won’t extend to its actual value.

That doesn’t mean it’s not downright fascinating all the same, seeing the streets plied with cars from eras long passed.  Yank tanks like vintage Chevy Bel Airs, Studebakers and Buicks cruise the roads. Hail an ‘almendron’ (big nutshell), a collective taxi, for an inexpensive but unforgettable way to your destination.

While you can’t rent one of these privately owned car yourself, you can have the driver ferry you around, give you a tour or simply take you from point A to point B.

However, be forewarned – a long distance road trip is not only expensive due to the gas guzzling nature of the cars, but unreliable and possibly uncomfortable. No power driving, power steering, power brakes or air conditioning makes driving these large lumbering beasts difficult.

Whether you’re a gear head and are planning your trip entirely around studying and driving in these historic cars or simply look forward to taking a photo of them during your visit, you will need to have a place to stay. Casas Particulares has a wide range of options, from small rooms to spacious homes. Click here to book your vacation spot now.

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