OldCarTours

Experience Cuba in a classic car.

Everybody’s Got Time to Explore Cuba by Car

Everybody’s Got Time to Explore Cuba by Car

By Lucy Wyndham.

Flight bookings to Cuba have increased by over 25% in the past year, with more families, friends and individuals heading to the popular Caribbean island to experience one of the most well-preserved cultures in the world. While it’s incredibly safe to travel to Cuba alone, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing a culture as rich as Cuba’s with friends and family. If you’re planning on heading to Cuba, why not take time out to explore the island by car? Whether you’re here on business or pleasure, there’s time to cruise down the streets of Old Havana in a classic convertible.

Cruising and Connecting with Coworkers 

So, you’re in Cuba on business? Everybody needs a break from work, but even when you’re on break, you can still enjoy team building activities. Yes, even in a classic car. If you’re part of a travel nursing group that’s been assigned to spend time in Cuba for a special event, for example, or are in Havana for a business trip with colleagues, there’s nothing quite like taking time to explore the island in the company of coworkers. Studies have actually found that adrenaline-producing exercises can create very cohesive teams, and unofficial studies show that cruising around Cuba in a classic convertible produces more than enough adrenaline to bring a team together on any project.

Group Travel Turned Stylish 

When traveling as part of a large group, most people tend to rent a van to travel from place to place. In a place like Cuba where the weather’s so nice and the buildings so historic, that simply seems like an injustice. With so many classic cars still roaming the streets of Havana, they’ve become such a staple of Cuban culture. And, with the ability to book a tour in a classic car or convertible that holds up to five people, it seems like an obvious option for group travel, especially if you’re looking to travel in style. Not only will you get to see all of the major hot spots, but you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the ride while participating in the culture.

Jam-Packing a Short-Stay 

If you’re only in Cuba for a short stay, there’s truly no better way to see all of the standard tourist spots and more than by taking a classic car tour. Not only will you get the experience of touring historical streets in a historical car, but you’ll also find it’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to see such hot spots as The Capitol Building, China Town, Revolution Square, Christ of Havana and so much more. With the ability to see a large portion of Havana City in about three hours, touring the tourist spots by classic cars offers a delightful option for even the shortest of stays.

Making Time for Timeless Fun

Classic cars in Cuba are timeless, and that’s exactly why you’ve got time to take a ride in one. Whether you’re traveling to Cuba with coworkers, as part of a group, or even for a quick 24-hour layover, you’ve got the time to travel the island by classic car, even if to snap a few photos and enjoy the feeling of the wind in your hair as you zoom past palm trees and ocean views.

Car Hacks: Make Your Vintage Car Shine Like New

Car Hacks: Make Your Vintage Car Shine Like New

By Lucy Wyndham

It’s no secret that vintage cars are beautiful and costly. Some of the most prized classics can go for as much as $30 million dollars. Because of this, it’s imperative that owners of classic or vintage cars know how to maintain and perform upkeep on their prized possessions. But when upkeep fails and you’re left with the task of restoring your vintage vehicle to its original glamour, it becomes apparent that it’s no easy task. As you tour through Cuba in one, you’ll notice how spotless and pristine their old cars are. How do they do it? Luckily, there are a few tips and car hacks that can make your life easier.

Appearance Starts With Paint

Whether your ultimate aim is to restore a faded car to its original glory to show it off on the streets or appreciate it yourself, it undoubtedly starts with its paint job. Does your paint look new? If not, many assume that you have to take it to a professional mechanic, but let’s put the brakes on that idea. There are many pieces of info mechanics would rather keep from you. The truth is, you can manage to restore your paint like new, and even buff out scratches, for a cheaper price and less hassle than visiting a mechanic. And you can do it from your own garage.

When you see the pristine classic cars roaming the streets of Cuba, you’ll want to emulate it. Of course, the best route would be to have a new paint job, but that’s not always feasible due to the price. All you need is a polisher, buffing wheels, and some polishing products like ultimate compound restorer and ultimate polish. These can be obtained in a variety of stores. A handy first step is using a clay bar to soak up all the contaminants in the paint, but this is optional. Next, apply a polishing compound on your buffer and watch the progress. Follow up with a coat of liquid wax to really have a finished glean in the paint. These can be accomplished without a buffer by hand, but it takes far more effort and doesn’t leave quite the same sheen.

Bring The Shine Back To The Wheels

The next step is restoring your wheels to their original shine. Because these are typically aluminum, the same compounds for the paint won’t cut it. You’ll need to pick up wheel cleaner, also easily available in stores, like Detailer’s Pro Series or Sonax. Start by hosing down the wheels as much as possible and follow up with buffering. If your buffer wheel has a smaller attachment, use that. If not, this can be done with some more elbow grease by hand. Apply your wheel cleaner and scrub them down, then follow up with polish form the first step. You’ll be amazed at how new they look.

Cuba is a haven for beautiful classic cars and they’re renowned for maintaining the looks. If you want to restore your own vintage mobile, don’t be in a rush to pay an exorbitant amount of money for it. You can restore the look of your car without it leaving your garage. So on your next tour through Havana, you’ll know how they manage their spotless cars.


Becoming a Vintage Car Expert: Here Are The Oldest Cars Ever Made

Becoming a Vintage Car Expert: Here Are The Oldest Cars Ever Made

By Lucy Wyndham


Visiting Havana is a great way to witness the beauty and finesse of vintage cars. By taking a tour in a vintage car and learning more about the way they work, you can fulfill your desire to learn more about antique vehicles while experiencing a part of Cuban history. After taking the tour, you may even have a newfound passion for old cars, leading you to pose the question: what are some of the oldest cars in the world?

While many people assume that Henry Ford’s Model T is the oldest car ever made, there are numerous vehicles that actually came before the Model T. In fact, there are several automobiles that predate the Model T by over 100 years! To become a true vintage car expert, you should be aware of the oldest cars ever made and know a little bit about their history.


1. The Cugnot Fardier, 1770

Designed by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, the Cugnot Fardier vehicle was officially constructed in 1770—well over 100 years before Ford’s Model T. French inventor Cugnot build the very first self-propelled car, which in fact was merely a self-driving carriage. The car was invented or the use of the French military, designed to cover 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles) in one hour and carry four tons of goods. While the car wasn’t able to travel this far or carry this much, it was still considered an achievement in its day. It is now on display at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris, where it’s been kept since 1800.


2. London Steam Carriage, 1803

Built by Richard Trevithick, the London Steam Carriage was constructed in 2803 in London and is still considered today to be the first-ever self-propelled vehicle that carried passengers. While Cugnot’s steam powered carriage technically predates the London Steam Carriage, the French vehicle was meant to haul artillery, not people. Thus, Trevitchick built the first car meant to transport people together, nicknaming the carriage the “Puffing Devil” and driving it up a hill in Cornwall. Unfortunately, the steam carriage was destroyed in a fire, but the original drawings survive.


3. Hancock Omnibus, 1832

Invented by Walter Hancock, the Enteprise steam omnibus was the first manufactured steam-powered car in the world in 1832. The omnibus was originally built for the London and Paddington Steam Carriage Company. It became the world’s first steam carriage service in 1833 when it was used as a regular service between London Wall and Paddington via Islington. The omnibus required three people working together to operate it, including a driver and two operators. In coordination, the three people were responsible for maintaining braking, looking after the water level of the boiler, and steering the wheel. It is still unknown how the three people communicated, but it was a great success at the time.

Learning about vintage automobiles is a hobby that unveils many interesting details and facts, like the oldest cars in the world predating Ford’s Model T by over 100 years.

Cuba’s Crafty Mechanics - Classic Car Upkeep

Cuba’s Crafty Mechanics - Classic Car Upkeep

By Lucy Wyndham

Vintage cars just don’t seem to make an appearance on the streets of many countries these days. This has given Cuba a top advantage and a slick vibrancy by their everyday presence on the streets of Havana, Varadero and elsewhere. However, even in Cuba, new cars are starting to emerge. Whilst the vintage cars will always be a feature of the roads of the island, you might be wondering how on earth the island nation has managed to keep their cars working and looking so well.

So, next time you’re thinking about being driven around Havana in a classic car, you might ask yourself - just how are they keeping this vehicle going, without access to original parts?

Finding The Right Vehicle

The vintage cars smattering Cuba are actually relatively rare, with only 60,000 in total on the island. Soviet-era Ladas and new, modern East Asian cars are more common, though there are showrooms to purchase classic vehicles in Havana. When purchasing, residents need to be careful to make sure they’re getting a genuine vehicle - after all, many families don’t want to let go of their prized possessions, so a sale is rare. Often, they authenticate the cars value by making sure the car valuation is correct through independent checks and balances. Secondly, many make sure that the car’s documentation is completely up-to-date and that there is a paper trail to prove the vehicle’s history.

Licensing and Driving

You may be well aware that only residents and owners of vehicles are allowed to drive the vintage vehicles. You might get a chance to sit in the driver’s seat, but never direct the tour yourself. This is because there is a huge assortment of parts and adjustments made to keep the cars workable, and the experience and nous of each car owner is crucial. A Cuban 1959 Impala won’t drive like an American one, and getting to the various areas of natural beauty in Cuba in your vehicle can be challenging. Ask your driver what he knows and to show the tips and tricks he’s picked up - you can earn yourself an education in expert driving.

Maintaining The Vehicle

Maintenance is not the easiest task going to keep the vehicle looking great and not damaging original fixings, or irrevocably changing the look. Vintage owners will employ special waxes and paint colors to ensure they maintain the classic luster of their cars. Speak to locals and classic car owners who own these vehicles about their hints and tips; many have been maintained through word-of-mouth suggestions for their entire lifespan. The parts needed to fix these vehicles are no longer readily available, at home or abroad. Speaking to local mechanics and enthusiasts, who have been crafting smart methods to keep the cars running over a long period, can be absolutely fascinating. Some of the mechanics would be the finest around, even when lacking a certificate to prove it.

Classic cars are a unique part of Cuba’s history and every visitor will find themselves stunned by the glittering array. A ride around the cities and villages of the island is a wonderful experience, but by asking the question and doing some research, you can learn some fascinating history and technical skills yourself. 

Three Classic Cars that Define Cuban History

Three Classic Cars that Define Cuban History

By Lucy Wyndham. 


The entire country of Cuba is an antique car museum rolling on wheels. Wherever you look, you’ll be greeted by an American vintage car cruising down the street. Although many Americans would pay thousands of dollars for these once glorious cars, to Cubans, this is simply everyday life.

The state of the automotive industry in Cuba has a frozen-in-time type of feeling. In 1960, after the Cuban revolution, there was an embargo put into place by President Eisenhower that banned certain exports to Cuba. Therefore, the cars that were in the country remained in the country and there haven’t been any new exports since. Now there are an estimated 60,000 pre-1959 American cars still flying through the streets that you can still admire, glorify, and even take a ride in. If you’re part of the gearhead community and have a chance to visit Cuba, see if you can spot these three classic cars that have defined the history and culture of the beautiful island.




Chevrolet Bel Air

These cars, known as cacharros or bartavias tend to come from the 1955-1957 time period. You can see many Chevy Bel Airs cruising down the streets of Havana and they are now seen as a representation of the time capsule the state is stuck in. Many of these have mismatched parts and a tri-colored body that directly symbolizes everything the country has been through in the past couple of decades. According to many auto magazines, the 1957 Chevy Bel Air is the king of the Cuban road.



Ford Fairline

Ford sedans constructed during the first half of the 1950s are one of the most common classic car in Cuba. The original Ford Fairline was designed as a family vehicle, but has since evolved to include many different convertible styles. The car also has a reference in the movies. In Die Another Day, James Bond navigated around Cuba in a 1957 Ford Fairline, which has further increased the popularity of the vehicle and strengthened its link to Cuba.




Plymouth

A 1957 Plymouth was involved in the kidnapping of racecar driver, Juan Manuel Fangio by Fidel Castor’s Cuban rebels. On the eve of the Cuban Grand Prix, Fangio was confronted by a man with a gun who shoved him into a black Plymouth. The kidnapper and his accomplices were able to get away in the Plymouth because it was a generic car driving along the Cuban streets. Although Fangio was eventually released, the Plymouth still rules the streets.

With the renewed relationships between the US and Cuba that came about in 2014, we may start to see an increase in the number of car exports to Havana. Therefore, you should check out these cars before they once again, become a part of history. 

A book that shows the truth about old cars in Cuba

A book that shows the truth about old cars in Cuba

There is a new book about the culture of American cars in Cuba. As we said before, Cuba is a rolling museum, where you can find about 60,000 old cars along the island. It is true that many of them have been transformed with modern parts but there are some that remain original. Many of our cars in OldCarTours have original engine. So, the book seems to be very interesting revealing the Car's culture in Cuba. That's a good point because the old American cars have become a part of Cuban life. For sure.

If you want to read the article in Forbes:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaclyntrop/2017/02/08/new-book-reveals-the-truth-about-car-culture-in-cuba/#66688bec1d4e

If you want to buy the book in Amazon:

Cuba's Car Culture: Celebrating the Island's Automotive Love Affair Hardcover – October 1, 2016
by Tom Cotter  (Author), Bill Warner (Photographer), Stirling Moss (Foreword)

https://www.amazon.com/Cubas-Car-Culture-Celebrating-Automotive/dp/0760350264

Enjoy it.

Havana Classic Cars

Havana Classic Cars

If you want to ride a classic car in Havana city, then you must be prepared to see as many options as people had at the 50’s years. With around 60,000 old classic cars in Cuba, Havana' visitors will have the opportunity of feeling like traveling in time.

Along the 3 hours tour, tourists can see many sights located in 4 districts of Havana. The most important attractions to see along this tour are: The Capitol building, China Town, Carlos III street, The famous Revolution Square, the houses of “Vedado”, Cristobal Colon Cemetery, Habana Forest that is considered the lung of the city, Miramar residence district, the 5ft avenue, Malecón avenue, and many other attractions.

It would be good idea to have a guide along the tour because you can have more details about history.

Havana city is a kind of rolling car museum. The interesting combination of old American cars and the old style of architecture make Havana a fantastic place to visit despite the crisis and destruction.

Riding a convertible car in Havana city is vintage and very funny for families. We recommend it.

Havana tour in vintage car

Havana tour in vintage car

Havana city is fashionable today. Since the conversation between Raul and Obama there are more and more tourists visiting the city, many of them with the idea of “visiting Havana before Americans arrive”.

That may be true, but despite the political focus, Havana is an old city. Almost the 80 percent of the city remains original since the Colonial period until the Communist Revolution at 1959. Therefore the city is old and today due to the crisis, the city is destroyed. This is part of the charm of Havana, the "City of Columns", because during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s there were built many houses with neoclassical style, because Havana was a rich city at that time.

You can see that Havana is vintage and one extra detail are the thousands of old American cars that ride along the city. About 6 years ago people of Havana realized that vintage cars were attractive for tourists so they started to restore them and today there are around 200 classic cars prepared for working with tourists, not only convertible cars but also sedan hardtop cars.  The rank of years of production are since 1920 until 1959. 

OldCarTours invites you to reserve a tour in Havana with a vintage car. We suggest using convertible cars for touring in Havana city, because the best way to see Havana is on convertible vintage cars. 

The 50s and American cars

The 50s and American cars

The 50s was characterized by significant changes in design, style and functionality of American cars of the time. This is known as the decade of automotive culture. Following the 2nd World War, the US economy grew rapidly due to the industrialization and commercialization of many new products which were invented or developed as a result of the war needs. After the war crisis, the decade began strongly regarding desires of consumption and production. It is estimated that in that decade, American factories produced 56.6 million family cars and 7.3 million vehicles bound for the agricultural and industrial production.

The war resulted in the increase of the roads connecting the entire country, so the cars began to be used and in demand for transportation throughout North America. This, combined with gas prices, generated considerable use of new vehicles. At the beginning, a gallon of gasoline (3.78 liters) cost 18 cents and 25 cents at the end.

The designs of the cars were gaining in length (L), their engines in power and they were lower and wider, as they say: lower, longer, and wider.

Classic cars in Havana

The chrome of the cars was becoming an essential aesthetic element and the most varied designs were used to compete with large companies as Ford, General Motor, and Chrysler.

Cuba has a wide variety of American cars of the 50s. Many are maintained with the efforts of Cubans, some over love and others over necessity. The splendor of the island in that decade has left thousands of cars driving through the city to the attraction of tourists and to meet the transportation needs of this country.

Vintage car tours

OldCarTours offers tours in classic American cars. All our prices are per car, NOT per person. Tours are paid in cash (CUC) at the end of the tour.

All our tours are OFAC compliant. They can be considered within the category of "Educational people to people travel" because you are interacting with Cuban people, their culture, religion and society.

Pick-ups at hotels, private accommodations and cruise terminal. We cannot pick up at airports.

See more of our tours here


Havana's old cars is like traveling in time machine

Havana's old cars is like traveling in time machine

Old cars and urban style in Cuba appear like traveling in time machine. There are more than 60,000 classic American cars in Cuba. Most of them remain with original parts, which are brought mainly from the US. These vehicles are locally known as “Yank Tank” or “maquinas”, you may find many around the country.

Among other brands you'll find Chevrolet, Ford, Buick, and in less quantity Cadillac, Mercury, Dodge, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Chrysler and Plymouth; also some classic European automobiles like Opel, Citroën, and MG.

Classic American cars in Cuba use both diesel and gasoline as fuel and their engines can be V-8 or 6 cylinders in-line.

Old Car Tours offers cars with drivers and tours in Havana and Varadero. All our tours are OFAC compliant. They can be considered within the category of "Educational people to people travel" because you are interacting with Cuban people, their culture, religion and society.

You can see all our tours and prices here:
There are all kind of convertible cars in Havana

There are all kind of convertible cars in Havana

Cuban people are good making solutions. We transform or adapt any car in order to keep then working. There is a model of Fiat made in Poland, that Cubans call it as "Polsky". So, here you have a convertible version of this old car from the 80´s.

There are thousand of Fiat Polsky (Fiat type 126) in Cuba. Nowadays these are very popular because of they consume just a few gasoline (small engines). It may be a problem their limit room but Cuban people don't tend to be big size, so it is a comfortable car for the family.

Some history from Wikipedia


The 126 used much of the same mechanical underpinnings and layout as its Fiat 500 rear-engined predecessor with which it shared its wheelbase, but featured an all new bodyshell resembling a scaled-down Fiat 127, also enhancing safety.

The front footwells, suspension, battery and spare wheel left little room for luggage in the 126 front trunk.

Engine capacity was increased from 594 cc to 652 cc at the end of 1977 when the cylinder bore was increased from 73.5 to 77 mm.[5] Claimed power output was unchanged at 23 hp (17 kW), but torque was increased from 39 N⋅m (29 lb⋅ft) to 43 newton metres (32 lb⋅ft).[5] The 594 cc engines were still available in early 1983 production.

A subsequent increase took the engine size to 704 cc in new "restyling" model Fiat 126 Bis (1987–1991), with 26 hp (19 kW) of motive power.

Fiat 126 (second from left) at the Auto Italia, Stanford Hall, 2010

In Italy, the car was produced in the plants of Cassino and Termini Imerese until 1979. By this time 1,352,912 of the cars had been produced in Italy.

The car was also produced under licence by Zastava in Yugoslavia.

Despite clever marketing, the 126 never achieved the frenzied popularity of the 500 in Western Europe. The total number of 126 produced is: 1,352,912 in Italy, 3,318,674 in Poland, 2,069 in Austria, and an unknown number in Yugoslavia. For a brief period in the early 1990s, a German company called POP also offered convertible versions of the 126 BIS. Two models were offered: a lesser equipped one called the "POP 650" and a more luxurious model called the "POP 2000".

Old car tours in Havana