THE CARS OF CUBA [AUTOMOTIVE DOCUMENTARY]Feb 27, 2020
When you think of modified
carsaround the world, you may think of a drift car on the mountain roads of Japan. Or you could think of a V8 muscle car running the quarter mile in the US, a lifted four-wheel drive or ute in the Australian outback. But when it comes to the ratio of modified
carsto stock and the ingenuity and ingenuity of car owners and their mechanics, the number one place in the world for modified cars is Cuba. MIGHTY CAR MODS CUBA Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean. 200 km east of Mexico 150 km south of the United States, and is home to around 11 million people.
We are in Havana, the capital city, which has a unique and thriving car culture, which was used as an iconic location in 'Fast and Furious 8'. So we decided to come here to dig deeper into the unique car scene. We're going to drive some crazy cars, as well as meet the people who own and keep them on the roads. From backyard garages to jungle mechanics, Cuba builds cars like nowhere else on the planet. Cuba's car culture is a fascinating mix of the crazy American excesses of the 1950s and the Soviet utilitarianism of the 1970s. Colored by the can-do attitude of the locals, to keep their old cars on the road.
Thanks to Cuba's proximity to Florida, it became a vacation destination for wealthy Americans in the 1940s and 1950s, with fleets of American land barges plying the streets. It wasn't long before a young man named Fidel Castro rose up and overthrew the government with a revolution. Taking control, effective January 1, 1959. This meant that the supply of American cars and parts dried up overnight, due to Castro's communist rule and links to the USSR. With the US export ban, Cuba turned to its Soviet friends for vehicles. Polish Ladas, Fiats and even the occasional GAZ or Zil luxury car. Trade restrictions meant Cubans couldn't bring parts if something broke in their car, so they became adept at keeping their old cars running by any means necessary.
This has led them to become probably the most resourceful car modders on the planet. Due to the trade embargo, Cubans had no access to the huge American industry of classic car parts. Many of the American classics have been refitted with cheap Kia and Hyundai diesels. It is also not uncommon to find cars that are powered by tractor engines or even stationary pump engines that have been converted to run a car. Cubans are especially proud of their cars, because they are a symbol of hard work and the vehicles become family heirlooms. It's not uncommon for families to pass down cars for decades and decades, with several different engine configurations and modifications that keep the car on the road.
So let's hit the road, drive some cars, and find out how, through thick and thin, these nifty car enthusiasts keep rolling in Cuba. But first. How are we going to move? Well, we've got our hands in this. This is a 1955 Chevrolet 150 Sedan. This is the upgraded-spec Bel-Air, and in the '50s, it could cost as much as $2750 depending on which of nine body styles you chose and how you customized it. There were hundreds and hundreds of options on offer. While you could get a straight-six, the big news in '55 was a new 4.3L turbo fire V8, known as the small block.
Still in production today, some people say, more than a hundred million small-block V8s have been built since 1955. A unique feature of the '55 model year engine was that oil filters were an optional accessory. But none of this applies to our car in particular, because what drives us on this journey is none other than a Toyota Diesel truck engine from Japan. The unique
automotiveculture in Cuba can be tricky to navigate.
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