Open Menu
Open Menu

The cars of Cuba, beyond El Malacon

Published in

Photos courtesy Maria Sokola.

It’s tempting to think that if the old cars of Cuba survived the decades until now, they’ll be around forever. They’re timeless, right? They’re a cultural institution, which means they’re essentially guaranteed to remain on the roads of the island nation, aren’t they?

Except, as anybody who bothers to look beyond the flashy colors of the novelty taxis or read beyond the tourism board hype already knows, many of the Fifties cars still on the road in Havana are hanging on via spit and bailing wire, bodged together time and time again. While they’re worth the world to the Cubans – passed down as heirlooms – we wouldn’t bother to give many of the wrecks a second look were we to see them here in the States.

And the thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States puts those cars in a precarious position. It’s anybody’s guess what will happen to the older American cars of Cuba over the next several years. Will prosperity make them irrelevant? Will the Cubans fiercely hold on to them out of tradition and pride? Will they become relegated to tourist taxi-duty?

Whatever the outcome, it’s perhaps important that the old car landscape of Cuba be documented as much as possible before the changes take hold. Fortunately, we’ve had plenty of old cars in Cuba submissions from readers over the years that we can put together a sort of photo documentation series to help capture the state of the Cuban old car scene.

Perhaps the largest submission we’ve received to date comes from Maria Sokola, whose husband Joe sent us the collection of Hartford, Connecticut, carspotting photos. Maria’s trip to Cuba took place in 2015 and the photos she brought back include a wide variety of cars on the street, at the curb, and lining the back streets. Old cars, new cars, Russian cars, derelicts, spruced-up cars, and drivers. The collection as a whole paints an interesting picture, one we hope future installments in this series will embellish.

img_1400 img_1402 img_1405 img_1408 img_1409 img_1410 img_1413 img_1414 img_1417 img_1420 img_1422 img_1423 img_1436 img_1437 img_1438 img_1439 img_1442 img_1458 img_1461 img_1468 img_1473 img_1475 img_1478 img_1482 img_1483 img_1484 img_1497 img_1476 img_1509 img_1510 img_1511 img_1522 img_1523 img_1535 img_1534 img_1536 img_1538 img_1540 img_1542 img_1543 img_1548 img_1549 img_1552 img_1554 img_1556 img_1558 img_1560 img_1562 img_1563 img_1564 img_1567 img_1568 img_1569 img_1570 img_1571 img_1572 img_1573 img_1576 img_1577 img_1578 img_1579 img_1580 img_1581 img_1584 img_1585 img_1586 img_1587 img_1590 img_1591 img_1593 img_1594 img_1596 img_1605 img_1597 img_1598 img_1599 img_1607 img_1609 img_1616 img_1617 img_1623 img_1626 img_1637 img_1638 img_1647 img_1648 img_1649 img_1650 img_1654 img_1655 img_1656 img_1657 img_1658 img_1661 img_1662 img_1663 img_1664 img_1669 img_1670 img_1672 img_1677 img_1679 img_1681 img_1682 img_1683 img_1685 img_1686 img_1680 img_1687 img_1688 img_1689 img_1690 img_1691 img_1692 img_1695 img_1696 img_1699 img_1700 img_1701 img_1702 img_1703 img_1704 img_1705 img_1706 img_1707 img_1708 img_1709 img_1710 img_1711 img_1715 img_1716 img_1718 img_1719 img_1720 img_1721 img_1722 img_1724 img_1725 img_1730 img_1731 img_1732 img_1734 img_1735 img_1736 img_1737 img_1739 img_1740 img_1741 img_1742 img_1743 img_1744 img_1745 img_1753 img_1746 img_1747 img_1749 img_1750 img_1751 img_1752 img_1754 img_1755 img_1756 img_1757 img_1763 img_1764 img_1765 img_1766 img_1767 img_1773 img_1775 img_1790 img_1801 img_1802 img_1803 img_1804 img_1805 img_1809 img_1810 img_1811 img_1815 img_1817 img_1818 img_1819 img_1837 img_1840 img_1841 img_1845 img_1846 img_1839 img_1850 img_1851 img_1857 img_1859 img_1860 img_1864 img_1865 img_1866 img_1867 img_1868 img_1869 img_1870 img_1871 img_1876 img_1877 img_1879 img_1881 img_1886 img_1887 img_1888 img_1889 img_1890 img_1897 img_1902 img_1906 img_1911 img_1912 img_1913 img_1914 img_1916 img_1919 img_1917 img_1918 img_1920 img_1921 img_1923 img_1926 img_1928 img_1930 img_1934 img_1936 img_1937 img_1938 img_1940 img_1941 img_1942 img_1943