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Cuba’s Iconic Classic Cars Getting Restored


Cuba’s hundreds of classic American cars are getting a much needed makeover thanks in part to the changes in Cuba’s economic sector. I’ve been to Cuba and what you have heard about the classic cars is true. People still drive around in ’57 Chevys or old Plymouths. After the American embargo took effect in 1961, imports of American cars ceased. Other than some boxy Soviet era Laras and the rare modern car imported from Venezuela, the old cars are the ones you see. It’s a major draw for tourists who dream of smoking cigars on El Malecon and tooling around Havana in the classic cars. Tourism has become a major factor in the modern Cuban economy and the government knows that the cars are a part of that.

There is a couple of different trends that have impacted the upkeep of the cars. The first thing is that people have been allowed over the last couple of years to start private businesses and act as chauffeurs for tourists that would rather travel in classic style. This influx of foreign income allows the drivers to fix up their cars with whatever parts they need. The second factor is the government itself that has made a concerted effort to pay for some of these cars to get fixed up as part of a general campaign to restore the tourist areas like Old Havana to their former glory. The cars are really cool. It’s like an automotive time machine.

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