Cuba – the old American cars are still thereSunday, 30 March 2014
After Mexico I flew on from Cancun to Havana, 13 years since I was there last. Way back then I’d gone thinking ‘better get there before Fidel falls off the perch.’ Well all those years later he’s still there, or at least still there behind the scenes. Brother Raul is supposedly at the controls, but one Cuban commented that ‘nothing will change until the dogs go. And then there will be another dog.’
So after 13 years Fidel’s still around, but surely all those old American cars couldn’t have survived? In fact if anything there seemed to be even more old cars than ever and if anything they looked in better nick.
▲ Or a fine 1958 Edsel. Most of them haven’t been restored in the authentic western tradition, Often the engines are now Russian or Korean diesel engines and lots of modern parts have turned up. But they certainly look good.
▲ But I also encountered a slightly newer old car which I once had a close relationship with. In a previous lifetime, even before Lonely Planet, I was a car development engineer at Chrysler UK in the English midlands. I worked on a vehicle which never rolled off the assembly line in Britain, but did appear in France from the Simca factory as the Chrysler 180. How did this one – from around 1970 – make its way to Havana?