I had already known the vintage wheels were driving about Cuba. It was due to Fidel who hooked up with the Revolution in 1959. He had fallen out the USA and the Americans banned to import anything to the Island of Freedom. Cars had also been forbidden. It happened in 1961.
The Cubans began sliding into poverty. They decided to pull into a brave new world by their old and solid “Chevrolets” and “Buicks”.
All these big, classy and freaky bold oldies were feeling good in 2010. It was an awesome sense for me to gaze upon the harmony of these old vehicles, motley houses, ancient taverns, and lazy people.
Most of the vehicles had a pretty good layout. It was due to tropical heat. That was why the cars were not crooked at all. But Nicholas advised me not to have any illusions about it. All the details inside weren’t native at all.
All the key parts could have been purchased at the black market. Or they have just been taken from some older vehicles. Sometimes Cubans didn’t have an issue with it. They had just set up the details from little trucks or new “Hyundai” models.
These collector items owners were told to be prosperous people. Taxi services were their main business. I had even seen the huge “Chrysler” or “Oldsmobile” had been balls to the walls with people. It was similar to shuttle van for me.
A car was always a good financial help in the local countryside. The mass transport was introduced only in Habana and some other big towns. And the countrymen were earning their living by hitch-hiking. Thirty dollars was the average monthly pay in Cuba in 2010. But the lucky car owner could earn his thirty bucks in a few days. He could also get back the expensive gasoline. The petrol costs were near 1.5 USD in 2010. It was also necessary to consider this big old hippo to be very gluttony for fuel.
And there was some great virtue. Cubans always handled with care their vehicles and they didn't break the traffic rules at all. The car was always Cuban’s earner so the whole family was praying for their old American every day.
Foreign tourists were always good rescuers for locals. It was possible to hire a car for five bucks and go for a ride around some local outskirts. It was my long-held dream to have a ride by the 1950th American vehicle. But before I was going to visit Habana capitol and set up in “Floridita”, Mr. Ham’s favorite place. So, it was my immediate appeal to have a cigar and go for a spin around the big and nasty city lights. It would be cool.
Soviet vehicles were another Cuban trademark. By means, I have visited many places in the world. And I have met those kindred Russian “Ladas” abroad. But it was the real Soviet traffic scene here in Cuba.
Cubans had been in the thrall of old “Ladas” and “Moskvichs” for many years. These vehicles had been adored for their simplicity. They could work for ages. They could be passed down to grandchildren. Sometimes I had even met the 1960th “Volga” cars.
It was possible to meet the old solid “ZIL” trucks working live beaver in the countryside. They were pulling their bodies full of the best Cuban tobacco or sugar cane for more than forty years. Nicholas and I had laughed loudly while seeing the tank-truck. We thought that another “ZIL” was carrying its can full of “Habana Club” rum. The cross-country “ZIL-131” vehicles were used for taking tourist through the local jungles.
The striking half-naked yellow girls or the local palm beaches weren’t the real exotic for me. The flair was just here among these old cars, village huts or shabby urban slums with these poor but corky people.
By the way, while toddling around Habana lanes, I encountered a “Lada” police car. Of course, I had a conversation with the policeman. His opinion was the Russian vehicles to be a smashing choice for the local police. These cars could be easily repaired in every car shop. Cuban authorities had a plan to purchase some new Chinese “Geely Otaka” cars. It was a bad idea because Chinese vehicles were not as firm as Soviet ones.