Pure Cuba: Classic American cars, a necessity not a luxury
By MERCEDES MEJIA
All around Cuba, vintage American cars from the 40s and 50s are still in
use, mainly because newer ones are hard to come by. The majority today
are used as taxis.
Locals and visitors get around in the almendrones (almonds), as they are
called because of their shape, and ride sharing is common.
Cubans will pay as little as 10 cents for a ride. Tourists pay anywhere
from $3 to $5 or more.
Almost all of the classic cars have new engines under the hood and
diesel is a popular choice.
Taxi driver Carlos Zamorra owns a 1952 Chevrolet Belair with a Nissan
Jeep engine from 1995. “This car was my grandfather’s car, and then my
father’s and now it’s mine.”
Zamorra says motor belts are difficult to find so he has a friend send
certain parts from abroad.
After the Cuban Revolution of 1959 the government began to import
Hungarian and Russian cars like the Lada.
Today you’ll find newer vehicles that are mostly owned by government
workers, but many find their way to citizens. Among the others are Fiat,
Renault, Peugeot, Hyundai, Kia, and the Chinese Geely.
Another taxi driver, Mario Espinoza says he can make more money driving
than he can working for the government.
“Stuck in time,” is a phrase you often hear in reference to Cuba. Most
people agree that’s due to the trade restrictions between the U.S. and
Cuba. But it’s hard to find anyone who harbors bad feelings toward the U.S.
Sergio Torres bought his 1954 Pontiac for $250. “The car didn’t run, the
vinyl was falling apart and it didn’t even have a steering wheel,” he
The car now has a Hyundai engine. It took over a year and nearly $3,000
to get it in good working condition. An investment he’s made with
friends and family.
Torres works daily from early morning into the evening. Some days are
better than others he says.
Source: Pure Cuba: Classic American cars, a necessity not a luxury |
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