Cars on the road in Cuba

As opposed to popular knowledge, cars in Cuba are not all 50’s American Classics. If I were to guess, from what I’ve seen the proportions are like this:

  • 50% Old American Classics
  • 30% Soviet era cars
  • 20% New Cars (15% of which are Chinese manufactured)

Only a few old cars are in good shape. Usually, the old American ones are pretty beat up. They won’t pas an MOT, or technical Inspection in any country anywhere. Some are missing their door covers so you have to pull some wires to get out of the car. None have the original engines and driving train, they were replaced a long time ago by Japanese  motors. None have any of their dials working. Seat belts are just a dream. Some larger ones have an extra bench installed inside so they can sit more people (up to 8). Rust is everywhere and most sit crooked – most likely suspension problems.

Cubans always keep several gas canisters in the back of their car and a huge stick like a baseball bat to prop up the hood in case their car breaks down. You will see that most Cubans repair their cars whenever they feel like it, on the side of the street, etc.

Old Lada in Havana Cuba

Actual working Lada in Cuba

Soviet era cars are in better shape, but not all the time. Some old Lada’s were converted into limousine taxis, some are just really beat up. They also have the Romanian four wheel drive ARO cars of which they take surprisingly good care of, maybe because it’s one of their few AWD cars.

New cars are Chinese imports and wherever they can get from South American countries.

The interesting bit is the price. Up until recently Cubans couldn’t buy or sell cars, but now they can. A Lada costs from 10.000$ to 17.000$, an Audi is 40.000$, a regular American classic around 20.000$ and a restored one over 50.000$. How can anyone afford these is a mystery but most can with aid from their families that send money from outside Cuba.

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