- By Emma Lelliott
- Published 01/17/2008
Ancient vehicles, some with more rust than paint, share the road with newer, shinier models, while horse-drawn carts mingle with motorcycles. Flea markets display Cuba holiday mementos - wooden models of cars built in the 1950s, which are still seen on Cuban streets.
"Yank tank," "máquina" "cacharro" ans "bartavia" are all words used to describe the American classic cars in Cuba. It is the only place where history and circumstance have combined to enable a whole society to preserve these amazing vehicles and turn them into a national treasure.
About 150,000 classic cars existed at the time of the 1959 Cuban Revolution when the U.S. imposed a trade embargo on Cuba. After this, international trade was made very difficult, so the cars that were present at the time have been nurtured and cared for ever since.
Of the 60,000 classic cars in Cuba, about half are from the 50s, another 25 percent from the 40s and a similar number from the 30s. Brands include Chevrolet, Ford,Cadillac, Buick, Plymouth, Chrysler, Dodge, Willy's, Oldsmobile and De Soto – vintage models of all of these can be seen on Cuba's roads today.