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.