Hunting for Antique Cars in Cuba
They’re iconic, beautiful, historic, and may contain more spare parts than a local landfill. These are Cuba’s classic cars from the 1950’s – covering the streets of Havana in a nostalgic glow and making antique car-lovers drool just to get a closer look. Called Frankenstein cars because their cobbled-together inner parts often resemble more monster than machine, these vintage Cubans may just be more famous than the cigars.
Stepping Back In Time
With the US/Cuba embargo still firmly in place, purchasing replacement parts for these gorgeous Chevy’s and Pontiac’s just isn’t possible. Fifty-five years is a long time to keep an old car running, so resourceful Cuban car owners learn make do. A muffler from an Isuzu, an engine from a Peugeot, pistons from a washing machine…yes, even old appliances are called upon to donate organs for classic car restoration in Cuba. Hence, we have what are commonly called Cuba’s Frankenstein antique cars.
Driving through the streets of Havana truly feels as though you’ve crossed a time warp…over 50 years have passed since these machines were shiny and new…but even today the shiny still remains. Hot pink convertibles cruise the Malécon, while taxi drivers pose proudly with their prized sedans and swinging fuzzy dice for pictures with tourists.
Cuba’s Frankenstein Antique Cars – Investment In The Future
These old cars mean more to the Cubans who care for them than just a mode of transportation. It’s an investment in their family’s future. Owning a classic from the 1950’s can bring in much-needed income when used as a private taxi. The average salary for a state job in Cuba is around $30 per month, while a taxi driver in high tourist season can expect to earn $30 a day. For the owner of a classic car, $30 to $50 an hour is not uncommon for a ride through the historic areas of Havana and, of course, a stop along the magnificent seaside Malécon. Automobile aficionados also frequent Cuba looking to purchase a piece of the past. The asking price for a well-kept piece of automotive history in Cuba could be as high as a hundred thousand dollars to the right collector!
Our Experience On The Road
After an evening in the historic district, we wandered through winding streets and found ourselves near the crashing waves of the Malécon. Lines of beautiful cars stretched along the curb and moonlight gleamed from shiny chrome. We had our choice! A sweet older man approached and offered his baby blue 1959 Chevy Impala to be our chariot home to the hotel. The doors creaked open with a painful groan and the seats sagged into rusty springs, but it was evident she was a well-kept classic. He was so proud! Inside, the car smelled like sea air and musty books. I can only imagine the wonderful stories it could tell!
From the backseat of our glorious Cuba Car!
Which Cuba Frankenstein car is your favorite? I’m a bit partial to the lime green 53 Chevy myself 😉
For more articles on Cuba and planning your own trip, please check out our CUBA DESTINATION PAGE HERE.