We all know about the cars on Cuba, right? They have become a class of their own.
Because, where else in the world can you find a 1954 Chevrolet or a 1957 Cadillac, painted in bright yellow or candyred, with an interior like your grandmother’s sofa, powered by a four cylinder diesel-engine from China and an undercarriage that is made out of different parts from all sorts of cars?
The Cuban people have made an art of fixing things when there are no spare parts.
And in the process, they create cars that are far from original but are looking cheerful, colourful and make you feel happy.
In Cuba are around 60.000 cars from before 1959, the year of Castro’s communist revolution. (Source: Jalopnik) Most of those cars are American, but there are British cars too and even the odd Opel and Mercedes.
The younger cars are Russian, mainly Moskvich and Lada from the 1970’s to the ‘90’s. From the 1990’s we also see cars from Korea and China in Cuba, lots of Kia and Hyundai. These last brands also provide diesel engines for many of the pre-1959 cars.
There is another thing that people in Cuba have: the internet. It’s limited, but it’s there. Mainly internet works via Wifi-spots in towns and villages. And as there are also smartphones and digital cameras, people can take pictures of their cars to sell them.
And where do they sell them? On Cogetucarro.com and on Autocubana.com. These websites are being used by Cubans only, which explains why the amount of cars that is on sale, is relatively low. In general, there will be around 1.500 cars on sale on both websites.
First of all, you will find lots of modern, ordinary cars there, cars that you can buy at your own hometown as well. Like Kia’s, Volkswagen Passats or Chinese Geely’s. But between them, you also find a lot of traditional Cuban cars. We picked out a few, to give you an idea what to find on these websites.
But don’t forget, all you can do is look at them. The prices of the cars are in CUC, the Cuban Convertible Peso. But even if you bring all the dollars in the world, you can not buy any of these cars when you are not a citizen of Cuba. The Cuban government considers them national heritage. Can you blame them?
This is a good example of a ‘Cubanised’ car. This 1952 Packard has been kept in running condition by adding parts from other cars to it, mainly parts of the Mercedes Sprinter van.
Not all cars in Cuba have been ‘Cubanised’, some are still in original condition. Like this black 1947 Buick, for instance. It does not seem to be in concourse condition, but it has everything that it had back in 1947. Someone in Cuba has worked hard to keep this car rolling.
And then there’s this blue Ford Zephyr. It’s a British Ford from 1961 and on this car literally nothing is original. The engine is Peugeot, the gearbox is Toyota, differential comes from Lada and steering comes from a Russian Moskvitch. One can only imagine what it will be like to drive this contraption. On the other hand, the resourceful Cubans have managed to take all these components and fit them together.
Here’s another Ford, a bit older than the blue one. This 1957 Ford Consul has a Toyota engine, the drivetrain is from Moskvitch
But not all British cars have been tampered with. This white MGA is from 1960 and has been in Cuba since new. It looks to be amazingly original.
For a 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air this one looks pretty original too, apart from the wheels. But the seller reports that it’s being propelled by a diesel-engine from a Hyundai H100 van…
Now here’s something that we can’t figure out. This green Volkswagen Transporter is supposed to be from 1991. It has a Hyundai diesel-engine and that is probably in the back, where it should be. But what sort of a Volkswagen is this? It looks like someone fitted the back of an old split window bus on the front of a bay window bus. But then, the front does look rather classic.
And here is a similar one, but this time with a bay window front. Does anybody have any idea what sort of a VW bus this is?
It’s not only car parts that are in great demand in Cuba, digital cameras are also scarce. That explains the poor quality of so many pictures on the Cuban used-car-websites. But we can still figure out what happened to this car. It started life as a 1957 Buick, a luxury sedan. but over the years, it has been converted into a workhorse, a pickup.
Ah, we can’t keep this one from you. Some months ago the pictures of this Mercedes 300 SL went viral. It was found in a barn in Cuba and was published by Cogetucarro.com. The ad has since then disappeared from the website so it seems that the car has been sold.
And finally this rather nice Hudson Jet from 1954. The brand Hudson has long been forgotten, especially outside the USA, but even in the USA, you can’t find many of them. But here is one, preserved by the people of Cuba. So it has a Ford-engine, a Moskvitch front suspension, and Nissan rear axle, but who cares? What matters is that it has been preserved for more than 60 years and now we can still enjoy the sleek lines of this car. It shows that the people of Cuba are in fact the curators of a remarkable collection of cars.