Today we’re traveling back to the sunny Caribbean, with a quick visit to the beautiful colonial city of Havana. The streets of Havana are unlike anywhere else in the world. Cuba is famous for its old classic cars from the 1950s and earlier, and snapping pictures of these classic cars became our favourite photo subjects during our trip. One of the things we loved most about Havana, was sitting on the Malecon and watching all the classic cars driving by. Havana is a can’t miss destination.
Many of these cars were imported before the revolution, when Havana was growing as a tourist destination. During the 1920s and 30s, they country became one of the most popular destinations in the Americas. Havana was at the pinnacle of this influx of visitors. There were nightclubs, casinos and hotels designed to lure the American tourist, and the city flourished, especially during prohibition to the north from 1920-33. This was the city’s golden age. In 1959, the US Embargo changed everything.
We’re not uncovering some great secret. The cars in Cuba are a well known; you can find many pictures of these classic cars all over the internet. There are as many as 60,000 classic cars still on the roads in Havana. Its estimated about 50% of these are from the 1950s, while another 50% are from the 30s and 40s. While some have been kept in immaculate condition, there are many cars that are falling apart and spewing smoke. There are other beat up cars too (usually Russian-made cars like the Lada) that were brought in during the cold war because of the US Embargo. Seeing the juxtaposition between the different vehicles was equally interesting as the classic American cars. It’s a mix of old and new, much like the country itself.
Cuba is becoming a popular tourist destination once again, and there are many great things to do in the city if you can find the time to hop over for a few days. We’ve showcased the “8 Incredible things we did in Havana” a couple months ago, and really can’t wait until our next chance to go back. The cars driving around the city are definitely one of the highlights.
Most of these cars are far from being an original. The inside of these old cars are held together by whatever the owner could find to keep it running, and in some cases, have a Russian made engine on the inside. Any car purist would loose their minds just by popping the hood on a beautiful Crown Victoria built before they were born. For the Cubans, if the car still gets you from A to B, then it’s a good car.
Owners of these cars take a lot of pride in them, and can regularly be seen on the side of the road polishing them. Many of the owners offer rides in these cars and the nicer and better maintained vehicles operate as taxi’s throughout the city.
For the drivers, this is a full time business. The nicer the car, the more you will pay for a ride. It really is something that you need to do at least once on your trip, as you will find yourself needing to travel somewhere further away at some point. A $20 for a ride along the Malecon seems like a pretty reasonable rate.
We had so many great pictures from our trip to Havana, Cuba that not all of our pictures of cars had a place to go. Today we have decided to remedy this, and are excited to share these pictures of Classic Cars in Havana. We hope you enjoy.