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  • Scroll through Havana's Instagram Geotag and you'll see countless photos of colorful cars.

  • The streets of Cuba are teeming with 60,000 classic American cars, and it's an iconic experience for the island's visitors.

  • A majority of tourists can tell a story about riding down the Malecon in a hot pink Chevy Bel-Air, or driving through Havana city center in a baby blue Cadillac.

  • But how did these classic cars get there?

  • And more importantly, why did they stay?

  • In the 1940s and 1950s, Cuba had a strong urban middle class, and this class had a passion for American cars.

  • Cuba imported over 125,000 American cars, and at one point, Havana was considered the Cadillac capital of the world.

  • Shortly after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, a ban was placed on imported cars and car parts.

  • American tourism to Cuba came to a halt, and 1.4 million Cubans left the country, leaving behind their families, homes, and cars.

  • These abandoned cars were passed on to family or friends and became prized possessions, with owners who are willing to do whatever it takes to keep them on the road.

  • Cubans turned to their ingenuity. Parts from tractors or lawnmowers became makeshift engines, and shampoo turned into brake fluid.

  • The cars are a symbol of hard work, but there are also a source of income.

  • A Cuban driver can make more in an hour than a Cuban doctor makes in a month.

  • Our producer, who visited her Cuban family in May 2018, saw the links families were willing to take to keep their cars running.

  • Being a driver in Cuba is a career path.

  • That's one of the few career paths, um, that allows you to kind of make your own money, and not depend solely on the government providing it for you.

  • So it is a very lucrative business.

  • It is also a huge investment.

  • It was definitely not what I envisioned when I was scrolling through Instagram, trying to get inspiration and travel photo ideas.

  • It just gave me a better appreciation of the ingenuity involved and the determination involved.

  • I definitely suggest, you know, getting that experience and driving in the classic cars.

  • But I think it's super important to remember that your photo op is their way of life.

  • For tourists, It's not just a way to get from point A to point B.

  • Riding in a classic car is an experience, and an hour long ride can cost anywhere from $25 to $40.

  • Graham Flanagan, another one of our producers, traveled to Cuba in 2015.

  • I knew that there were gonna be a lot of beautiful classic cars, but I thought there would be kind of mixed into a bunch of regular modern cars.

  • I was blown away by just how many of these cars there are.

  • It's just one of the most unique and colorful characteristics of the city.

  • I would absolutely recommend that if you're going to Cuba, you need to hop in one of these cars and go for a ride and explore the city.

  • Explore the city of Havana, get off the beaten path.

  • I can still smell that unforgettable smell of all of that fuel exhaust walking the streets of Havana.

Scroll through Havana's Instagram Geotag and you'll see countless photos of colorful cars.

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B1 US cuba havana classic cuban cadillac ingenuity

Why Cuba’s Streets Are Filled With Classic Cars

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    林宜悉 posted on 2022/02/05
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