The Myth of Classic American Cars in Cuba
Amidst all the excitement over the normalization of relations with Cuba is the myth of American cars in Cuba. Many Americans assume that they'll be able to snap up some pristine Chevy Bel Air. In reality, you’re not going to be able to find “like-new” cars from the ‘50s down there.Instead, what you’re going to find are a lot of old Chevys, Fords, and Plymouths being held together with Cuban ingenuity. The whole purpose of an embargo, which has been ongoing for more than 50 years, is to prevent new things from being shipped somewhere. RELATED: See photos of the 1957 Chevy 150
New things as in replacement parts for old American cars. So, Cubans made parts. Soda bottles became gas lines. As BestRide.com pointed out, “... when Cubans traveled in classics, the cars were usually loaded past the maximum allowable weight and were forced to travel on decaying roads, resulting in even more abuse to the already under maintained vehicles.”
And, as Marketwatch.com explains, cars in Cuba rust. (Just look at the video below. You can see rust.) “It’s not that the climate of Cuba is so mild that the cars don’t rust out, because they do … the streets are full of pre-’60s iron — some of them looking showroom-new, some of them flaking and rattling.”
RELATED: See photos of the 1955 Plymouth Belvedere
Aside from rusting parts and soda bottle gas lines, there is another thing to consider. These “American” cars might be running with Russian engines or as the video below shows, a welding machine engine. Or, parts that have been hand-made. Your dream American car from the ‘50s might be one hard bump away from falling off its frame and you won’t be able to get parts.
Cuba is not going to produce a mother lode of classic American cars in top running condition. The collector’s market is not going to be overrun. Find one in the USA that has been restored. That’s going to be your best bet.
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