Cuba’s Wonderful Retro Classics


Have you seen the photos of the classic cars that populate the major cities of Cuba? Since Cuba has effectively been isolated from western society for almost 50 years, certain features of its society are locked in time, and automobiles are one of them. Today if you visit Havana, for example, you will find the streets are literally loaded with these 1950s vehicles. They are regularly used for personal transportation and even commercial use. Want one? Well, that might be possible soon.

After 54 years of political animosity, Cuba and the United states have formally restored diplomatic ties. The Cold War has been over for a long time now. The beginning of this new relationship was symbolically established when the US recently opened its embassy in Havana and Cuba opened its embassy in Washington, DC this year. The last time the Cuban flag flew at the US embassy was in 1961, before the U.S. broke ties with the communist island.

However, contrary to popular belief, car collectors probably won’t be descending on Cuba soon. The reason is rather simple, actually -these aren’t the vintage cars that American collectors really want. While some are in remarkably good condition, most aren’t. These are cars that have been heavily modified and patched together for over 60 years now. They are known to be held together by duct tape, bondo and bailing twine with few original parts still on the vehicle. They are like “Frankenstein” cars.

In Western society, the “intrinsic value in collector cars is in the originality of its parts,” said Steve Linden, a professional appraiser of vintage automobiles. Most important, he said, are “original body, the interior, engines, transmissions.” Unfortunately, this is not the case with Cuba’s cars.

The experts still feel that some exporting will occur. Some collector will simply want a particular model of a collectible American car if the same model isn’t affordable in the US. Perhaps the greatest export interest is likely to come from Cuban exiles, though, who are proud to buy a car that is quintessentially Cuban, and representative of the era.

Source: Junction Chrysler Dodge