CAR_El placer de pasear por La Habana con un viejo Chevrolet

When you set foot in Havana you are immediately taken to the past, not a very distant past but it’s the past nevertheless. The fact is that Havana possesses a huge cultural and historical heritage that comes second to none. We mean this literally, as far as its cars are concerned, which inevitably take us back to the 1950s and early 1960s. The wants and needs of the island prevented the renewal of most of the cars on the roads of Cuba after the downfall of the Batista regime.

The old Fords, Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Chryslers have been handed down over generations like family heirlooms. These cars kept on running despite the years, the rust, the embargo (no spare parts), the hurricanes, the tropical climate, saltpeter and all the bumps on the road. I was once told by a cab driver, after asking what they did to repair the cars and keep them running (you can hardly find any repair garages on the streets of Havana): “We do it ourselves. We don’t need anybody to do it for us. These cars are handed down from the previous generation, and when we are kids our parents show us how to repair them. Nobody knows your car better than you do. They are part of the family.” But they are gradually being replaced by more modern vehicles, luckily for the hardy Cubans, but those of us who enjoy the sight of these old carriages slowly progressing through the streets of Havana will feel a pang in our heart the day that the last of these vehicles ends up in the car dump.

These cars from over 50 years ago have become an identifying symbol of Havana. In spite of the economic difficulties, many owners have put forth every effort, as well as their savings, to keep them as if freshly bought from the dealer, because for many they are their only possession, and also a source of income

The history of Cuba is written down in these automobiles, a testimony of a past age that can be experienced on the streets of the world’s largest antique car museum.

 

 

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