For the next vehicle in our Cuba taxi series I thought we would do something Russian. I really hoped to find a GAZ or ZIL but the stars did not seem to line up for that. The local drivers of any of the GAZ cars we saw were either not taxis or not generally used by tourists. Perhaps they thought we would not have an interest in their car. Ladas were a very popular taxi but we received those in Canada during the Eighties so set my sights on a Moskvitch. We were able to finally flag one down and take a short ride from the Malecón to the Capital Building. Ride along with us.
Here is our approximate route. It went by in a blur so I suspect it might differ by a few streets but the start and end certainly are accurate.
We had just visited the Malecón which is a stretch of road next to the ocean with its impressive sea wall.
We went one street over onto Calle San Larazo to snag ourselves an interesting taxi . The advantage being that it was a rather more relaxed road than directly on the Malecón making it easier for a driver to pull over. We found ourselves a slightly confused Moskvitch driver who did not seem to understand our interest in his particular car with all the other choices around. A good number of the Moskvitch cars seem to be more geared towards private ownership or taxis for locals. Regardless he agreed to transport us to the Capitol Building which was an easy landmark to explain given my limited Spanish and his non-existent English.
The wild and wonderful streets of old Havana.
Here is a one minute video of the ride. Both the building and automotive sights are amazing and varied.
The interior of the car was very basic but rather a nice size for a compact car. Imagine a classic Datsun 510 for a rough size comparison. Overall I found it rather appealing but I tend to enjoy the odd and unusual.
The Moskvitch 2140 / 1500 was a refreshed version of the earlier M-408/412. The 2140 was produced by AZLK from 1976 to 1988 and sold under various names depending on the market. They were powered by a 1.5L four cylinder engine with a four speed gearbox.
My son managed to snag a photo of me paying the driver. The tight interior dimensions caused a small issue when I accidentally knocked off one of the interior panels when trying to extract my wallet out of my pocket. Despite the rather ill suited aftermarket alloy wheels I rather enjoyed the Moskvitch rather a lot. Charming might be the right word.
Our destination, El Capitolio, which is amusingly very similar looking to the United States Capitol building given the current frosty relations between the two countries. Construction was completed in 1929. It is not a mere replica of the more famous US building and actually has marginally larger dimensions.
As a result of our trip my son is likely one of the few Canadian teenagers who can identify a Moskvich versus a Lada from a hundred paces away. A niche skill no doubt.
At our destination a red JMC mini-truck and blue Opel are visible across the street. With Russian and French scratched off the list what else can we ride in for a taxi? Stay tuned.