There's been some concern and consternation over what the possible end of the American embargo might mean for Cuba's automotive landscape. Some have prognosticated that it'll spell a small boom for the island, while we mainly just hope the culture itself isn't destroyed. But the old American cruisers might not sell so quickly, because of basic math.
Benjamin Preston, ex-Jalop, all-around swell guy, and writer for the Guardian brings up an incredibly important point that most people seem to be forgetting:
Cuba relaxed some of its own trade restrictions on automobiles earlier in the year, allowing new cars to be sold on the island for the first time in half a century. But extremely high prices – $30,000 for a Chinese Geely, $70,000 for a Volkswagen and $250,000 for a new Peugeot, for example – have kept the flow of new vehicles to a trickle.
So even if you head on down to Cuba, get yourself loaded up on 151 proof rum and an IV full of cigar nicotine, and make a frankly absurd offer for a car like the 1953 Chrysler Windsor above (I think it's a Windsor, feel free to be smart on the Innernette and correct me), for say, around $20,000, even though in running condition it should cost only a few grand, you're still forgetting a fundamental problem.
The person that you hope will sell you that Chrysler isn't driving the old tank around because they love archaic engineering and wide swaths of chrome. They're driving it around because they can't afford anything else.
Cuba is still, of course, communist. People don't have that much money.
So if you go ahead and pony up that 20 grand, they're still 50 grand short of buying a new Passat. Meaning they've now got a bag of cash, which is wonderful, but a bag of cash doesn't have wheels and engine and can't get your family to work and school and to revolutionary celebrations.
Plus Cuba isn't just swimming in old iron, despite many portrayals. There's a massive supply issue as well, since most people don't actually drive around in Americana. They mostly drive around in old Ladas and other Soviet cars, if anything at all.
And then there are a whole host of other problems, as well. Go check out Ben's story in the Guardian so that all your dreams can be crushed.
Photo credit: AP