Looking For Deals On Well-Loved Cuban Cars? ¡Revolico!

Illustration for article titled Looking For Deals On Well-Loved Cuban Cars? ¡Revolico!

We love seeing those old cars from Detroit (and Moscow) down on the Cuban street, but did you ever wonder what they're worth to the owners? Courtesy of the Gray Lady, we've discovered the "Cuban Craigslist."

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You'll find a '56 Buick for 7,000 CUC (the CUC is the "convertible" Cuban peso, roughly equivalent in value to the US dollar), for example. How about a '50 Dodge sedan, or maybe a '56 Rambler American with a Volga 24 engine? Of course, you might prefer to have your Volga engine powering an actual Volga, or perhaps a pimped-out, Chernobyl-era Moskvich is more your speed (note that the Moskvich is the same price as the Buick, which just seems Wrong. You fans of English Fords can even find a '59 Ford Zephyr… but you'll have to part with 14,000 CUC to drive it away.

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[Revolico, via New York Times]

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DISCUSSION

ranwhenparked
ranwhenparked

Unfortunately, the Cuban government now considers these cars to be an important part of their cultural heritage, so it is now illegal for their owners to export them abroad.

However, the option of converting one into a boat and heading for Cayo Hueso is still available.

There was a period, not too many years ago, when the Cuban government was buying decent restorable cars off their owners and exporting them as a means of earning foreign currency, the former owner would than take the cash and put it towards a new Lada or FSO, but even that program no longer exists.

Many of these cars have been handed down through the same families since the '50s, anyone who owns a car in Cuba is considered wealthy and is able to supplement their income by giving rides to European and Canadian tourists as unlicensed cab drivers. Gasoline costs in excess of $4 a gallon, and the average Cuban earns less than $100 a month, so you can see where the extra income comes in handy.

Also, due to their crumbling mass transit infrastructure, there is a law now in effect that requires all car owners to stop for hitchikers, of course, anyone with government license plates is exempted - in the workers paradise some are more equal than others.

When Fidel was officially running the show, he was known for giving away brand-new BMWs like candy to reward his top political and military operatives, making high-end German iron essentially the only late model iron you'll see on Cuban roads, albeit quite rare. I assume Raul has continued the policy.

The only other new cars are the ones owned by the foreign car rental agencies, some of which do use late model American cars imported through Canada, pretty funny that even in a country as theoretically desperate for new cars as Cuba, Sebrings are still dumped onto the rental fleets.