Cars in Communist Cuba.
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Still to be discovered: Havana Automobile Museum

[dropcap] U [/ dropcap] not of the many attractions of the Cuba Island are the many classic cars that still circulate daily through its colorful streets. Anyone who has been there will have been drawn in one way or another by that kind of "time travel", whether he is a profane amateur in the matter at hand.

The authorities have not been overly concerned with preserving this heritage, despite the tourist possibilities it entails. Most of the cars that circulate there since the 40s and 50s have ended up being modified in all possible parts, in order to continue providing service.

It is not uncommon to meet great american classics of brands Cadillac, Packard or Buick with parts from various other brands. Many others have been modified to become vans or minibuses… and there are even some that have been stripped of their mechanics, cut in half and placed on top of a truck chassis to act as a simple “cabin”.

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Cars in Communist Cuba.
This scene would bring anyone back to the 50s ...

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[su_quote]After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the assets of the wealthy families of the Caribbean island were confiscated, and many went to warehouses throughout the country ...[/ su_quote]

Apart from the question "Pictorial", Another issue that attracts attention as soon as we land on the island is the strong smell of kerosene that invades its streets; The reason is that the government continues to distribute this fuel for the old Soviet kitchens that hardly anyone uses anymore, so the flammable liquid is resold on the black market to long-suffering motorists, who mix it with gasoline or diesel.

Another aspect little cared for by the regime - and that could have great possibilities there - are the automobile museums, as is the case of the one we have been fortunate to visit. Located in the picturesque neighborhood of the "Old Havana" from the Cuban capital, it is a little gem that most motor racing fans are unaware of. Like everything in Cuba, it is difficult to find it and once there it does not seem what it really is, a Museum.

Cars in Communist Cuba. The most valuable car in the museum: A whole Rolls Royce Silver Ghost from the 20s
The most valuable car in the museum: A whole Rolls Royce Silver Ghost from the 20s

[su_quote]As on the streets, don't expect spotless chrome or shiny paint; all the vehicles in this museum are old, worn and repaired with pieces from here and there ...[/ su_quote]

In a state of discovery

The old building that houses it is of colonial style and is in a very damaged state over the years, like most in Cuba. On the ground floor there are two large warehouses strewn with tall cast iron columns, and between them is parked a varied selection of classic cars from all eras.

After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the assets of wealthy families on the Caribbean island were confiscated, and many went to warehouses throughout the country. This museum is actually officially named "Presidential car depot", as it contains among others the Armored Cadillac V-16 of 1932 that President Batista used in the first years of his government.

The other jewel of the exhibition is undoubtedly a Rolls-Royce Phantom I. from 1926 with luxurious French bodywork, although the oldest car in the collection is a 1904 Cadillac that is currently not on display because… It is being restored in the USA! Is it true about the rapprochement between these two historically opposed countries?

Classic cars in Cuba: In the center, the curious plastic replica of a Maserati from the 50s created for a movie
In the center, the curious plastic replica of a Maserati from the 50s created for a movie

Aligned with the previous ones are another Cadillac from 1932 and a Packard Eight from 1929, an MG TD from the 50s, all kinds of American classics from the 20s to the 50s with multiple modifications, an Alfa Romeo Spider from the 60s or An impressive relatively well-preserved 20s Mack truck.

At the bottom of one of the ships there is a strange small car with eye-catching Maserati logos, which is nothing more than a 1/2 scale plastic model that was used in a film shot in Havana about the races that Fangio ran there at the controls of a real Maserati during the 50s.

Behind this "Fake car" You can see many other wrecked cars that are stored there but can only be "glimpsed", and if we look closely we will discover such interesting things as a Mercedes 190 SL from the 50s or an impressive Packard Phaeton from the 20s.

Of course, as happens on the streets, do not expect spotless chrome or shiny paint; All the vehicles in this museum are old, worn and repaired with parts from here and there, a situation that we hope will improve in the near future, as these little jewels certainly deserve it.

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Francisco Carrion

Written by Francisco Carrion

My name is Francisco Carrión and I was born in Ciudad Real in 1988, a place that was not at first akin to vintage cars. Fortunately my grandfather, dedicated to the automotive sector, had friends who owned veteran cars and participated in the annual rally that was held (and continues to be held) in my hometown ... View all

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