All photos by Eric Clem.
“What do you drive? I like, Chevrolet…” (Ry Cooder, The Dreamer)
OMG, there’s Grandma Rose’s teal ’54 Bel Air! And I think tangerine is a very nice color for that Fleetline. Very citrus.
Had to do a double take on the yellow Toyota Corolla looking car parked to the left of the hot pink ’53 Chevy. It’s badged with an MG logo… WHAT???
Then I found out through a Wikipedia Search that it’s an MG 5, which is some sort of Badge engineered Chinese car….
Apparently, Cuba has gotten cars since 1959 after all! – Just not from US, I suppose.
” It’s badged with an MG logo… WHAT???”
I took these photos. A large number of the new taxis in Havana are Chinese built MG sedans. If the cars are newer, they probably are Chinese brands including Geely. I believe the Chinese have replaced a lot of the foreign aid that previously came from the Soviet Union. Buses in Havana’s municipal fleet and operated by a dominant nationalized tour operated are made by Yutong.
The Polski FIATs are everywhere around Havana alongside the ubiquitous Ladas.
I’ve never owned an MG, but have always wanted one. It’s incredibly sad to see this once great marque producing run of the mill family cars.
Great Pictures, BTW Eric! – That must’ve been a really cool trip!
Thank you for taking the time to take these photographs and sharing them with us. I never tire of seeing the cars of Cuba.
MG once stood for Morris Garages. How about Mao’s Garages?
Ha,Ha,Ha! – I wish I’d said that! ?
Sadly, apparently they’re promoting the idea that it stands for “Modern Gentleman”.
Except that MG has a history of producing family cars. What’s missing with the SAIC-owned MG is that they’re not currently doing sports cars. Reviews I’ve read on the line is that they’re respectable.
MG’s current owners make it clear to Chinese buyers that the MG is MADE IN THE UK. Just like those top-of-the-heap Bentleys, Range Rovers, Rolls Royces, and McLarens, you know? Well, it’s sorta built in the UK – at least that’s where the finished product rolls off the line. Really it’s built in China, shipped to Britain as CKD kits, and the final assembly done in a small section of a mostly empty factory.
Whitch means that a Toyota is way more of an American car than MG is a Britsh car… ?
MG have now abandoned that facade and the UK ‘production line’ has been shut. There is still design work done for MG in the UK but no assembly.
On the other hand Toyota, Honda and Nissan all have UK factories,
Its not “badge engineered” the way you mean it, I think. It’s solely a product of SAIC. They “rowe” sounds similar to “Rover” in Chinese, and they are essentially the same product lines as before the takeover, Rover and MG, except now it’s Rowe and MG because Tata owns the “Rover” name as purchased from Ford.
Pioneer wagon for me, whatever it is. Great ladder.
it’s too much! i especially love the contrast of the monstrous ’59 chevy parked next to the minuscule fiat 126p.
Argentinian Falcon — real cool!
Peugeot 403 — quite a find!
Fargo truck — superb.
But I have to say the orange Chevy fastback really does it for me.
Red ’58 Chev sedan appears to have had some sort of change to heavy duty hubs.
Blue ’59 Chev sedan appears that only the rear was changed to HD hubs.
Attention all units, be on the look out. Buick sedan, blue and white, tag P177754, appears to be carrying modified HD suspension.
Thanks for the vacation, Paul
57 Plymouth looks a lot less menacing without a grille. Too bad.
One thing that always strikes me when I see Cuban cars is just how “fixable” old stuff used to be. Newer stuff may be better quality and more reliable, but if parts aren’t available it’s often cost prohibitive or simply impossible to fix. So many products today are disposable, even expensive products.
I have 2 old radios, a 1937 Emerson table model and a 1939 Zenith console. Both are of course vacuum tube (valve,for our UK friends!) circuits. While transistors and ICs are more reliable in theory, I never even try to fix a modern (post 1980) radio. The components are too close together to replace even though I’m good with a soldering iron. On the 1930s units, replacing the capacitors, resistors, ETC isn’t a big deal, to say nothing of popping in a tube (still available thanks to the innerwebs!) ?
Sadly cars are becoming like radios,TVs and phones. When they work, they work great. When they don’t, Good luck making anything more than maintenance repairs.
Te amo DeSoto! 🙂
At least two cars seem to have LADA door handles from the 80’s. Can someone find them?
With their colorful ingenuity, cigars, baseball and rum, why wouldn’t you want to be friends with Cuba? Sorry for the bit of politics, but come on, they are our neighbors.
It’s the Castros no one is thrilled with. I don’t know of anyone (in my sphere) who dislikes Cubans. I have a Cuban American (son of 1960s refugees.) coworker. He’s decidedly,naturally more anti Castro (either one!) than I am. In the post Fidel era, we will become closer as it’s true we have more in common than many people think. It’ll take time but it will happen.
Cubans could certainly export their love of bright colours to the rest of the world, too.
Anything close would be better than the “50 shades of gray” we’ve been stuck with! ?
Love the DeS behind the pink 53 convertible. The mods that really impress are the Buicks though. The torque tube used on those old Buicks allowed use of smoother riding coils, but they made mods really hard because there were no factory control arms or mounts to hold the rear suspension in place. I think I see some evidence of fabricated control arms under the red 56 convert. Love to take a look under one of these to see how it was done.
I like the jacked up 100E Ford Anglia its had a complete running gear swap from something probably a Lada, I saw a video of some of the old Cuban cars recently it featured some of the swaps going on unfortunately the two guys doing the filming concentrated on a Suzuki that had a Peugeot diesel engine in it and carried on about the genius of the local mechanics who did it,
Ah, Suzuki and Lada both featured Pug diesels from new.
As a kid in the 80s/early 90s, I considered old Fiat 124 based Ladas about the most heinous cars in existence. Russian sailors would buy solid, working examples for 50 quid and ship them home. Now they look so elegant to me, compared to modern bloatmobiles.
Love this stuff. Thanks again, Eric.
My dream as photographer is travel to Cuba, the classic cars and the architecture forms a perfect scenario for take pictures
As a photographer myself, I’d have a field day in Cuba as well with the old cars and architecture. Good thing I shoot digital now – I can’t imagine how much film I’d burn through.
Hi Eric, thank you for this visual feast! the cars are teriffic, but I am also enjoying the street scenes. I love your honest portrayal of daily life in Cuba. No one seemed to care you were pointing a camera at them!
Thanks for your comment. It takes on extra weight as I am a HUGE fan of your posts with pics around Cape Town.
Whatever happens with Cuba in the near future I hope (most of) these cars get a chance to stay in the country, where they belong. Cubans have every reason to be proud of them.
PS. This is the first purple Peugeot 403 I’ve ever seen!
Good, interesting pix ! .
I notice cleaner streets than Los Angeles too .
Would have been interesting to see photos of the interiors and of what exactly is under the hood now.
Don’t some of those fifties American cars look plain shorn of all their bodyside trim after a respray? A base Chevy without chrome is one thing, but an undressed ’56 Buick convertible?
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