12 Jul 2016 Cuba’s Classic Cars
Visiting Cuba is like visiting a rolling classic car museum. The streets are full of some of the oldest running vehicles anywhere – still used by locals as daily drivers! Visitors to the island can ride in these cars (like we do on our Cuba Clásico Bike Tour), but most tourists don’t realize that these cars represent a tremendous part of Cuba’s history.
When the U.S. embargo was put in place 60 years ago, the last imported American cars had made their way to Havana. That’s why these cars have been running for generations.
Many of the vehicles you’ll see now in Cuba are 1951 and 1955 Chevys. The 1955 Chevy Bel Air Sedan 235 , a two-door, rear-wheel drive car, got up to 60 miles and hour in 14 seconds when it was new. But now most of the cars don’t have original parts or motors – they’ve been replaced with parts from Russia and China, or otherwise jury-rigged by brilliant local mechanics.
Now there’s regularly scheduled air service to Cuba, and cruise lines bring in thousands of passengers – all of them hustling to ride in a classic Cuban taxi. These taxi rides can cost up to $30, which might be two month’s of salary for a Cuban. Any day, you’ll see a bright parade of old diesel Chevys rumbling up and down the Malecón, Havana’s seaside walkway.
Also rattling around on Cuba’s streets and roads are horse-drawn carriages. Some people use these as a tourist attraction, while others get around in carriages regularly. New motor vehicles are expensive, and sometimes there aren’t enough cars and buses for everyone. And in the most remote parts of the country, carts are virtually the only way to get around.
Check out these great car photos from our 2018 Cuba Clásico bike tour!