|For many years, Cubans were banned from buying and selling cars. If you had a car, you could keep it, but you couldn’t sell it or replace it. As a result, old cars were cherished, and pampered 1950s American cars are common on the streets of Havana and other cities.
As well as the classic American cars, there are also many Soviet Ladas from the 1980s and many new Chinese cars on the roads. Many people are assigned new cars due to their work and there are also lots of shiny new buses and taxis. However, only within the last years have private individuals again been allowed to buy new cars and these are priced at several times the US market prices. So I think we’ll see the classic cars for many years to come. They’ve also turned into a significant tourist attraction in their own right – a tourist taxi ride in a well maintained classic can cost several times that for a shiny new taxi.
The mechanical properties don’t always match the external appearance. I took a couple of classic car taxis, and while one was fine, the other gasped and slowed to a crawl on even a very modest hill. But it was still fun to ride!