This is Down On The Street Bonus Edition, where we check out interesting street-parked cars located in places other than the Alameda. We all liked Fantasygoat's shots of Cuban cars, and now we've got more!
Fantasygoat mostly focused on old Detroit machinery, but Cuba also boasts a good selection of Iron Curtain Fiats. Polski Fiat 125Ps, Ladas, and the like roam the Cuban streets, and AcaciaBogdan went to the island- breezing right past JFK's embargo thanks to his Mexican citizenship- and get some great shots of both types of Jalop-approved iron for us. Now I've got to go reread Pedro Juan Guiterrez' Dirty Havana Trilogy, my favorite (and highly NSFW) post-Soviet-era Cuban novel. Here's what AcaciaBogdan has to say:
In these pictures I have tried to show what these cars are really like; driven daily, fixed and maintained in any way possible, just to survive. They have been passed from one generation to the next and are considered a prime commodity. They maybe some of the priciest possessions as all housing is state owned. To understand these cars is to understand the people of Cuba. Despite living in what we would consider poverty, people are chugging along, seem relatively optimistic, and are looking forward to better days ahead.
As mentioned above, the cars themselves are not in as mint as one would imagine. They all have been repainted several times. The paint quality and probably the painting process itself is not what one would call an industry standard. I spoke with one cabby about his 1950's Ford convertible; he said that it was his father's car. Since he's had it, he has replaced the transmission from a 3-speed to a 5-speed (yes, a "five-on-the-tree" set up, totally crazy) and had a few body panels re-fabricated by hand.
On the mass transit side, people are generally being bused around in trucks. A typical Havana bus is essentially an American truck with bus-type looking trailer and is called "the dragon" by locals. I was told it's like an R-rated movie: adult language, violence and brief nudity. The "buses" that run between cities are gated flatbed trucks with the people piled up in the back.
Currently, you can see all kinds of cars in Cuba; from the Communist Eastern Block Fiats, Ladas, and UAZs, current Asian and European models, to the 50-plus year old American iron. There is also a large number of current American vehicles, which I've learned come by the way of Canada. With all these other cars slowly coming into Cuba, people are realizing that the days of their beloved old American iron are coming to an end. I have learned that owning an old American car is slowing becoming trendy and a whole car culture dedicated to keep them running is emerging.
Please enjoy the pictures. If you have the ability to travel to Cuba, do yourself a favor and go as soon as possible. It is an unbelievable experience to see this magnificent country and its people in its current state. When you do go, remember that the best meal you can get is at a private "restaurant" (home) of the locals; the food is great, the price is low and the experience is unforgettable.
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