New cars for Cuba


Making it work: Cubans repairing American cars have to improvise.


Rodrigo Arangua

The days of the old, beloved classic cars in Cuba may soon be over.

The Cuban government plans to relax rules early next year on buying and selling cars.

That’s expected to crack the door on the market for countries that do business with Cuba — China, South Korea and some European countries — and see those who can afford a trade to cash in their own rustbuckets for newer, more efficient cars.

In the meantime, many Cubans are still driving the same old American cars. When something breaks, they can’t just order new parts, or even buy a new car. 

Over the years, they’ve gotten pretty creative.

The Detroit Free Press weighs in:  

"Sometimes you see a pile of rust on four tires, and you're thinking, how can that thing even move?" said John McElroy of Autoline Detroit, who has been to Cuba. "I saw people who were making their own brake fluid using sap from a bush and mineral spirits."

Cuba is full of do-it-yourself mechanics, using whatever they can dig up to keep their cars running.

Here’s another patched-up ride:

The 1955 Dodge has a 2-liter bottle strapped to the driver's-side door frame, with a hose leading from the bottle to a hole in the hood.

It is the gas tank. And it works.

Although the aqua car’s interior is stripped, owner Obel Aguado still drives it to work at the Los Jazmines viewpoint snack bar.

"He's going to put a Bulgarian diesel engine in it," another man said proudly.

Imagine what these self-made mechanics could do with a few (actual) spare parts.