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Cars in Cuba

Since the year 2000, we have posted almost 150 “Feature Trucks of the Month” articles from 1934 to 1972 Chevrolet and GMC. These remain in our website archives on oldchevytrucks.com.

This month we are going out of the loop and for this one time only are featuring some special cars of the 1950’s in the mystery country of Cuba. We thought this might be of interest to so many that have only heard stories of this nearby country.


During a recent US Government approved tour of Cuba (90 miles south of Florida) so many American cars of the 1950’s were seen operating daily. About 20% of their very low car population is still 1950’s vintage. These “Yank Tanks” (slang for American post war cars) continue to be important for the islands transportation.

When the US began the still existing Embargo in 1961, Cuba auto dealers could no longer offer US cars or their repair parts. They were out of business! However, the cars they once sold are still on the island. Replacement parts are almost non available.  Their repair items are limited to several well picked over salvage yards, are homemade, or late model car parts are forced to be modified to “fit close”.

Looking original is not even a factor. Most just want their car to get them from point A to point B. One exception has recently surfaced due to the increase in tourist trade from so many non US countries. Cubans have found the interest in “Yank Tanks” so strong some cars are being used as taxis to transport visitors, in the capitol city of Havana.  They are everywhere in the small towns just being family carts.

The following photo gallery will give examples of how people with little income have kept their 50 year old cars on the road. We attempted to divide them as per the manufacturer and hope there is not too many mistakes. Beginning with the more basic taxis used by a few of the Cuban people, we move up to the larger 50 year olds.

 


These 4 taxis wait at an intersection for a fare.

No horses in the big city of Havana. Thus the driver uses ‘pedal power’.

Here comes more ‘pedal power’.

Looking at the back of the big city ‘pedal power’.

Modern one cylinder taxis can seat 4 people.
Cadillac
The Ultimate! Modified big car for hauling customers!
Home made top and rear door from something!
Buick
This white 1959 convertible is his pride and joy.

This about 1950 is the best the owner can do with the parts available.

His 1955 just keeps rolling.
Oldsmobile

Their 1959 Revolution Hero. Che Guevari is on the hood.

Nice Straight body on this 1955.

Being a taxi helps with expenses.

An ornament on the ornament.

Roll and Pleat Upholstery.

We wondered if a top was under the boot.
Ford

83 year old Model A Ford. Uses a recycled 4 cylinder volkswagen engine.

1948 Sedan, not too bad!
This owner was so proud of his little 1954 sedan.

Truck Trim

Wing vent plastic is all cracks!

Nice Dash.

Re-do Upholstery.
1957 One of the better cars. Chevy hood ornament? One wiper!.

1957 Ford has been cared for.

Keys got lost. A screwdriver works!

A lens from where?

Not a bad re-do job.
Pontiac

This 1946 has a straight body.

As good as most US originals.

This 1952 Pontiac has a very straight
original grill.

A Silver Streak, probably US made, with unusual tail light lenses.

Column Shaft wore out. It now has a nice floor shift.

A 6 bolt wheel and drum on a 5 bolt car! What is this? 1/2 ton pickup?
Mercury

The hood opens in reverse.

Look at that bumper!
Chrysler Products
They love their little Plymouth.

a “Yank Tank” with fins is the ultimate!

An Ornament on a Ornament.

Cuban’s love these!
Willy’s Jeep

Straight front fenders date this little people hauler.
Austin
Only a few early Europeans are on the roads.
Chevrolet

Nice 1953 convertible.

If you need a steering column try this late model.

WOW! A real column shift! (1958)

Almost no column shifts remain. Worn out, they have been replaced by floor shifters.

A better 1951 with Cuban rear turn signals.

Trying to make a little money with his 1950.
More Chevrolets!

Extra cooling fan. Whats under the hood?

1952 with 6 bolt wheels and 1/2 straight axile. Now that was a project!

Maybe a trip is coming!

1953 – Not bad..

Wish he had more 1951 parts!

“Whiskey dent” on a 1953

This 1951 owner wanted a Vacuum gauge bad.

1953 good looking dash!
More Chevrolets!

This clean 1954 is ready to carry tourists.

The famous 235 six cylinder engine. They’re almost bullet proof!

A very straight 1951 front end! Silver paint covers poor chrome.

How could they have ever dented the heavy center floor hump?

Needs new upholster never stops. (See new floor shift.)

Could this be!
The inner and outer door panels are separating.

More “whiskey dents” with hammer repairs.
Miscellaneous Do-Dads

What make is this?

Modified to haul many people face to face.

Get the most from Upholstery.

Two screws save the trunk lid hinge.

Carved Wooden Armrest.

Cuban rear turn signals.
Togetherness at the taxi stand each morning.
The street vendor’s truck is the only pickup we found.
Remember paper mache.

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