Havana's Auto Heaven
On the Streets of the Gas-Rationed Cuban Capital, '57 Chevys and Classic De Sotos Are Still a Common Sight
From the Print Edition:
Sylvester Stallone, Mar/Apr 98
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For a monthly fee, explains a worker named Raul, many Cubans store their American cars in the underground lot because they simply guzzle too much gasoline (gas costs about $1 a liter--or about $4 a gallon--in Cuba). The owners are waiting until the economy improves. Others are afraid to park on the street because the car might be bumped or the parts stripped. Interestingly enough, there is little fear of the car itself being stolen because, in a country where everyone seems to know everyone else's business, sudden acquisition of a car would be far too suspect.
Raul himself owns a tiny orange Fiat parked near the entrance. Because of its superb mileage, he says, he gets offers to buy it every time he takes it out on the street.
If and when the United States normalizes relations with Cuba and drops travel and trade restrictions, American car collectors doubtless will flock to Havana. It's a classic car paradise, harboring more classic cars per square foot than anywhere else on earth. Despite the U.S. government's continued hostility, Cuban people still love American cars, American culture and American visitors, who are invariably met with big smiles, handshakes and greetings of Bienvienidos--Welcome.
Bill Strubbe is a freelance writer living in California. He has visited Cuba numerous times.
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