Cuba is literally a museum of cars from the 1950s. With nearly 60,000 vintage automobiles, anywhere you go you’ll come across classic models of a number of American manufacturers: Chevrolet Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Fords, Studebakers and Plymouths, which would later become Chrysler.
Fidel Castro forbade the import of vehicles from abroad, so until recently it was nearly impossible to buy an automobile made outside Cuba. The only American cars that could be bought for private use in Cuba were those purchased and registered before the Revolution. And since there were many of these thanks to the wealthy past of Cuba’s middle class, classic cars in Cuba were the norm rather than the exception.
Cubans use these vehicles to run their daily errands, whereas anywhere else in the world they would be treated as prize collector’s items. The owners of these ‘Yankee Tanks’ sit atop potential goldmines. The recent liberalization of the automobile market paves the way for a changing landscape in the streets of Cuba, with the possibility of selling these wonderful classics to foreigners.
Many of these vehicles are in a good state of use thanks to the constant attention they receive. Buying spare parts has been difficult and if these cars have been kept up and running it is largely thanks to improvised, hand-made parts. They have been conserved as a result of loving care and ingenuity. On the other hand, many of these vehicles, especially those known as almedrones (used as taxi cabs) have been transformed, substituting a diesel engine (often manufactured in the Soviet Union) for the original.
Almendrones are one of the major tourist attractions in Cuba. Some of them lack seatbelts or air-conditioning, the windows might be broken and the doors sometimes pop open suddenly when the car is moving. Others, however, are offered on the internet and are in perfect technical conditions, even with air-conditioning. You can hire the services of a driver (and guide) with his car for several days in a row. But make sure you always settle the price beforehand so that you know how much you will be charged
The island has many of these treasures from the fifties. These classics are a tribute to the good old times. Come to Cuba and witness this open-air museum of vintage automobiles.
“IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts has a number of hotels in several areas of the island of Cuba, ranging from well-known destinations such as Varadero to less frequented but equally attractive zones such as Trinidad, and of course the majestic capital city of Havana. The hotel surroundings are spectacular, with beaches of fine gold sand, areas with a lot to see in terms of nature and some of the most significant buildings in the history of Cuba.”