When you visit Cuba, one of the things that’ll strike you as odd is the number of vintage cars on the street. They come in all possible colors and are very pleasant to look at. They certainly add to the illusion of Cuba being stuck in a 1950’s time warp.
Why Does Cuba Have So Many Classic American Cars?
So, why does Cuba have so many Classic American Cars? Unfortunately, the history behind these beautiful cars is not so pretty. The simple version of the story goes like this…
From 1952 to 1959, Cuba was ruled by a dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Many Cubans believed Batista to be corrupt who catered only to rich Americans while the wealth gap between the rich and poor increased. Fed up with poverty, the people of Cuba rose up in revolt led by Fidel Castro. As the revolts, riots, and demonstrations against the dictator increased, so did the repression of them by Batista.
In 1958, in recognition of the atrocities of the Batista government, the USA withdrew its support of Batista and banned him from entering the country. As a result, the dictator fled Cuba and the revolutionaries succeeded. The US initially supported the new government formed by Fidel Castro, despite having reservations on the execution of around 500 Batista supporters by the revolutionaries. However, when the Castro government started seizing private property and nationalizing private companies, the US was not pleased. Further, when heavy duties and taxes were levied on American products the US government had to respond with trade restrictions of its own. This started the bitter trade war between the two countries.
Cuba, in response, grew closer to the USSR and expanded trade relations with them. In the time of the Cold War, the strengthening ties between Cuba and the Soviet Union didn’t sit well with the US and so began the permanent trade embargo. A further blow to the relations between the two countries came when the US discovered that Cuba was providing a military base for the Soviet Union leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The relationship between the two countries was now beyond repair. In the years following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the USA has increased the economic strain on Cuba by punishing the countries that trade with it.
Due to the trade tensions with the USA, Cuba could no longer import American cars into the country. Trade with other countries was expensive due to geographical distance and the additional trade restrictions imposed on the other countries by the US that trade with Cuba.
With no new cars coming in, the cars that were already in Cuba remained the only cars that the Cubans could use. When they broke down, they fixed it up with local parts. So, even though the cars are vintage, what’s under the hood is probably not.
Classic American Car Tours
Riding in a classic American car is now one of the hottest tourist attractions of Cuba. If you want to experience this yourself, you can buy a 2-hour Classic American Car ride through Havana. On this tour, you’ll ride a Classic American Car with an English speaking guide who’ll take through the suburbs of Centro Habana, Miramar, and Vedado. You’ll pass by some notable points of interest such as the Malecon, Anti-Imperialist Square, and Revolution Square. The car ride also has a stopover at the hidden Havana Forest, a large foresty area in the middle of Havana with a river running through it. The tour ends at Hotel Nacional, where you’ll enjoy a cocktail as you look on the Malecon during sunset.
I hope you enjoy Cuba and all it’s attractions as much as I did. If you did, please share your experience in the comments below!
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Amazing pictures, the colors are so stunning and alive.
Thank You Madi. I love how bright and colorful these cars are. Wish I could see them everyday.
Love these cars! I wish they were more common around my country. The colours are so cute! Glad you are enjoying your trip down in Cuba 🙂
Yes! totally agree. I am back from Cuba and I miss these cars. Why don’t they have such colorful cars here in Canada?
Oh my gosh those look so great! I’m drooling! It’s a dream to ride around the beach with a cool car like that!
They are so cool aren’t they? You can get a ride around Havana by buying a classic car tour.
These are so so cute! Great post!
Yeah I agree. I love them. Thanks for your comment:)
I would so love to visit Cuba one day
You should if you get a chance. It’s a wonderful place.
I love these old cars, they really remind me of my visit to Cuba!
Yes, I couldn’t stop reaching for my camera every time a classic car passed by :). I have collected many blurry shots this way :D. These are the good ones.
I have just finished with great interest the vision of your blog “beautiful” detailed in every detail, you’re very good, you have done a job superior to travel agencies, you are very professional, now I understand your choice of life, your passion your stubbornness to do very well, that shown by you is wonderful, I bow to your intelligence for the meticulousness and accuracy in the description and indication of the places you visited and assistance to new travelers who want to take and make the same experience you lived . I agree with you “The world is visited at 20 years” unfortunately at that age there are no economic conditions for many including myself. I for the work activity I have traveled and I travel again, I am engineer and direct research and extraction of hydrocarbons all over the ugly world (deserts, polar caps, African forests) are currently on the platform in the North Sea in Norway. I found your blog (for me) very interesting for Québéc City wonderful city entirely French, things like that are common in Haute-Savoie, but even more the lakes of which the most beautiful is “Moraine Lake”. In Cuba I have been there through organized travel and Switzerland, a nation neighboring mine, has been repeatedly examined fugagiamente, the wonders of the two nations, honestly speaking, have been seen on your blog.Canada struck me, I had no doubts, nature is still untouched, I intend to visit those regions (Ontario and Québéc) instead I visited two cities of British Columbia “Vancouver and Victoria” visited from Alaska where I worked.
You have to be proud of your good work, it’s always like that (the photos are beautiful) not being modest, you’re a professional in the field, I suggest you write for some industry magazine specialized for travelers.
I promise you that your bolg will be visited by me in time to inform me of your next trips.
Thank you so much! I am encouraged by your comments to write and explore the world more. I want to give people the chance to explore the world through my blog and enjoy it free cost. The places you have visited seem so interesting and rarely visited by people. I wish to travel to such remote places one day.
Stay tuned for blog posts on Japan coming soon in March. In summer, I will make more efforts to put up more articles on Canada’s wilderness.