I am not going to lie to you. When I heard that the U.S and Cuba were going to begin diplomatic relations again, I did a literal spit take. After cleaning my screen and remembering I could’ve always bought Cuban cigars, something dawned on me: A lot of cars have just run out of a stay of execution.
Far be it from me to suggest that everyone will begin to buy new cars immediately after they become available. The two gigantic hurdles of extremely low wages and extremely high prices remain untouched and will take a while to clear them. Let’s not forget that as of this writing Havana is charging $262,000 for a new Peugeot 508 (I’m assuming that’s the price before options) and the average income is around $20/month, gaps this big take a while to reduce. Nonetheless, Cuba is about to experience an increase in living standards that can only be described as unprecedented since “La Revolución”.
It’ll also more than likely mean the end for a large amount of the old ‘50s iron that has been romanticized through endless photoshoots and videos. But let’s not kid ourselves here, they have been subject to more than half a century of abuse and neglect. Even if the owners really did want to care for them and enjoyed the designs and the interiors and all the things we see in them, it’s very hard to do when you can’t get spares for them. These cars survived out of necessity rather than preference. You’d also keep whatever car you had running whichever way you could if you knew there was literally nothing to replace it with. Makeshift fixes were the norm rather than the exception. MacGyver solutions? Of course. Most of these cars have had their their worn-out and thirsty original powerplants replaced with with Lada diesel engines, never mind many other mechanical parts. These are Frankencars.
I don’t see them doing anything else than finally rusting in peace. Or will they be preserved locally as mementos of their time? Will there be an export market for them, given the condition most are in? Most would be very difficult or next to impossible to restore to their original condition. Will Americans and Europeans be interested in them? What about you?