These Antique Cars on The Cuban Roads are Colorful Reminders of an Era Long Gone

Cuba is literally a rolling car museum.

Cubans are proud car owners, and yes, to maintain an American car for 50 years or more is a feat worthy of pride. Any given parking lot or square in Old Havana is a spilled Skittles bag of brightly colored metal, and every street echoes the deep thrum of Cadillacs, Chevys, Dodges, Buicks, Fords and more that originally rolled out of Detroit half a century ago.

For 54 years, American economic sanctions made new vehicles virtually unobtainable, which meant that the old Dodges, Chryslers, Fords and Chevrolets from the pre-Castro days are constantly mended and modified to keep them going.

Old cars and urban style in Cuba appear like traveling in time machine. There are more than 60,000 classic American cars in Cuba. Most of them remain with original parts, which are brought mainly from the US. These vehicles are locally known as “Yank Tank” or “maquinas”, you may find many around the country.

Among other brands you'll find Chevrolet, Ford, Buick, and in less quantity Cadillac, Mercury, Dodge, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Chrysler and Plymouth; also some classic European automobiles like Opel, Citroën, and MG.

Classic American cars in Cuba use both diesel and gasoline as fuel and their engines can be V-8 or 6 cylinders in-line.

Pre-1960 vehicles remain the property of their original owners and descendants, and can be sold to other Cubans providing the proper traspaso certificate is in place. In 2011, the Cuban government legalized the purchase and sale of used post-1959 autos. In December 2013, Cubans were allowed to buy new cars from state-run dealerships

The 11 national Cuban car dealerships sold just 50 cars and four motorcycles in the first half of the year under the new law.

Cars which are unable to be repaired are usually either stored for future repair, or else disassembled and sold for parts in order to produce extra income for the owner’s family and to ensure other cars can stay on the road.

Still, thanks to constant upkeep, most of the cars remain in good working order, with the owners of the Yank tanks aware that if the embargo were ever to be lifted, they’d be sitting on a potential goldmine by selling the cars to American collectors.

Hopefully, they can sell their classic cars for the price of a new one. That would be great for the Cuban economy! Hold out for a good price, Cuba!

Of all the things that have shaped modern Cuba, arguably the biggest isn’t Fidel Castro, but rather America’s answer to him.