Skip to main content

Cars and Cuba: A detailed list of links

(Updated: Nov. 20, 2011 )

Blogspot’s doohickey for recommending links doesn’t permit annotation, so here’s a more detailed list of sites about Cuba’s cars and related topics. I welcome your nominations for additions to this collection  and please let me know if any of the links here aren't working.

Facebook Cars of Cuba: This group boasts nearly 650 photographs submitted by Facebook members, with a great range of locales, photographic styles and, most important, Cuban automotive subjects. Many vehicles are identified as to make, model and year, and the general discussion can be interesting.

Books by Baker: Award-winning writer Christopher P. Baker is the author of the “literary” work Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba, the coffee-table heavyweight Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles, and numerous travel guides to Cuba and other destinations. His prose is elegant and entertaining, and the photography is spectacular.

Flickr: This photo-sharing site has el-mucho images of our favourite topic. To see the work of individual contributors, search for “Cuba cars” from the homepage; for a more organized view, look at the Flickr groups described below. One caveat: few Flickr photos are accompanied by information about the vehicles in the pictures or even where the shots were taken. 

  1. Cuban Cars / Carros Cubanos
  2. Cuba Cars
  3. Cars of Cuba – the greatest American car museum in the world
  4. Diplomat Automobiles (DeSotos built for Export)
  5. Transportation of Cuba
CubanClassics: This longstanding blog has beautiful photographs taken throughout Cuba by Ralphee, who obviously knows and loves cars, plus charming discussions of the models pictured. Ralphee's insights on car design are not to be missed.
Rusty Nuts Car Club --- Cuba Project: Car hobbyists in Holland Landing, Ont., near Toronto, have reached out to provide aid to Cuban owners of 1950s cars, and have even established a Cuban chapter of their club. See photos of the First Annual Rusty Nuts Car show in Santa Cruz del Norte. Find them also on Facebook. (Update: website doesn't seem to be active, but Facebook group is alive and well.)

Yank Tanks - Carros Classicos De Cuba: A friendly, detailed review of the 2002 David Schendel documentary (Blue Collar Films) that celebrates Cuba’s vintage vehicles and the self-taught mechanics who maintain them.

Sixpack Tech: A concise, objective explanation of why Cuba’s old cars are preserved while more recent vehicles are abandoned.

Havana Old Timers: Not sure what I admire more in this series of 20 side-profile views of Havana cars by Thomas Kalak – the way he bathes each scene in soft light, or the delightful texture of the backgrounds. Unpretentious and deceptively simple, this is photography of a high order.

Classic Cars of Cuba: A German family visits Cuba, and returns with a fine selection of photographs. All cars are carefully identified by model and year.

Trams and Trolleybuses: Ymtram Maske, a Russian website with English translations, has a fascinating section on the public transit of Cuba, from trains to buses to taxis (both horse-drawn and self-propelled), with about 90 photos taken across the island. For a detailed look at the Hershey Electric Railway and an extensive selection of car photos and other shots, visit the site's main Cuba page.


Along the Malecón: One of the best of the Cuba blogs, with alluring images and artful writing on contemporary events and other topics.

Not Just Tourists Ottawa: Visiting Cuba? Take along a suitcase of much-needed medicines and other health supplies, collected by this volunteer humanitarian-aid group. Site has links to chapters across Canada.

Cuba Junky: Honest and charming guide by a Netherlander.

Cubamaniaks: “A non-political, non-commercial website and discussion forum”

Havana Journal: Based in the United States, Havana Journal offers a professionally presented, wide-ranging discussion of Cuban current events and issues.

Cuba Black and White Film Photography: From Yuko Tanabe, a multimedia YouTube offering with engaging music and images (including several of our favourite subject). 


Anonymous said…
very nice post , already. i want reccomend also whis nice web-site ,

Popular posts from this blog

Discovered in Cuba, a rare Mercedes bird

(December 2012 note: See update link, below.)

 GUESS I'LL have to set aside my search for the younger Batista’s 1956 Corvette. An even tastier trophy has emerged – a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, better known as the Gullwing.
   Even on the Island of Surprises, I’d be astounded to come across one of these rare beauties. But in a brief section on Cuba in Automobiles Lost & Found(Haynes Publishing, 2008), I see a photo of a battered 300SL observed by author Michael E. Ware outside a private garage near Havana.
   The Gullwing, unmistakable lift-up doors in place, is dented and rusting and missing its engine, yet still would be prized by collectors the world over . . . if only they could extract it from Cuba. Restored, the Silver Metallic example with Lipstick Red interior might be worth more than $700,000 U.S.
   Reached in England, Mr. Ware tells me he was holidaying in Cuba when an acquaintance brought him to an unnamed community to see the car.
   “I never asked where it was – I was just …

Crosmobile wagon: A little car lasts a long time

A LONG while back, I put up photos of this tiny wagon in Havana. Most students of automotive history would have identified it as a Crosley, from the short-lived Crosley Motors Inc. of the United States.
   As the additional photo above reveals, however, it's actually a rarer yet Crosmobile, which was Crosley's export nameplate. The change was reportedly necessary to avoid conflicts with England's Crossley Motors.

   Crosley made cars from 1939 through 1952, less a four-year interruption for military production in the Second World War. The station wagon was its most popular model, but it also offered  convertibles and sedans, a sports car and even a tiny pickup truck. This wagon is from Crosley's final CD series (1949-1952), and we can further tell from its roll-down windows that it's a 1950 or newer; the '49 had sliding side windows.    The company was a long-held dream for Powel Crosley Jr., the Cincinnati, Ohio, businessman whose Crosley Radio Corp. had become t…

The last cars out of Cuba

(First of a series)

   It's Oct. 31, 1960, and the SS City of Havana, an automobile and passenger ferry that began life as a Second World War landing craft carrier, is easing to its berth at Safe Harbor in Key West, Florida.    Sixteen years earlier, this vessel, then known as HMS Northway, carried amphibious trucks and their Canadian and British crews to Juno Beach in the Normandy Invasion. But on this day, those aboard are fleeing, not approaching, conflict. Of the 287 passengers, 232 are Cuban citizens who hold United States residence permits, key to their own economic and political safe harbour.
   Also aboard are 86 cars, of which most belong to the U.S. embassy in Havana. After imposing an embargo on trade with Cuba in retaliation for the Castro government's seizure of U.S. property and alignment with the Soviet Union, the United States now is cutting diplomatic ties. This photo, taken upon the City of Havana's arrival and provided by Key West History magazine, shows ro…

Havana and Detroit: Sisters under a well-worn skin

   VOLUPTUOUS, PRE-1960 American cars are the obvious link between Detroit and Havana. One city built them, the other relies on them.    But the Michigan and Cuban capitals share more than pontoon fenders and Dagmar bumpers.
   There's the architecture –classic, often crumbling, with flashes of contemporary. 
   The permeating music – different in genres, yet descending from the same African roots.
   The vivid art – best represented, in the Motor City, by the product of two Mexico-born painters: Diego Rivera, whose working-man murals would be as at home in a Havana barrio as they are on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Frida Kahlo, whose surreal folk-art images could command prime space in any Cuban gallery.
   And beneath it all, murmuring like a Hemi-powered '55 Chrysler, the energy of a place alive and assured within its own well-worn skin.
   It follows, then, that as Cuba becomes more open to Americans, Detroiters might be better equipped than many of their fell…

The Remarkable Story of Fortune Magazine's Confusion Over Cuba

WE KNOW THAT some American news outlets get Cuba, and for that matter, get cars. Fortune appears lacking on both counts.    Sad evidence of this is supplied in "The Amazing Tale of How Cuba Saw Its First New U.S. Car in 58 Years," a web piece in which staffer Sue Callaway accompanies Infiniti design boss Alfonso Albaisa on his first visit to the island his parents left in 1962.
   Also on the trip: a pre-production 2017 Infiniti Q60 coupe for Albaisa to show off in a country where, in his words, "the romance of the automobile is still completely alive."
   U.S. car?
   Despite the contributions to its styling by Infiniti's San Diego design centre, the Q60 is about as American as sukiyaki.
   Just like its predecessor, the Infiniti G37, the Q60 shares its platform with the Nissan 370Z. And it's built at the same Tochigi factory as the 370Z.
   It's Japanese.
   Perhaps Fortune was confusing it with the similarly named QX60, the sole Infiniti model produced at N…

A man and not his bicycle

THIS MAN is Canadian, and so is the 10-speed he holds, an iconic Supercycle from the Canadian Tire retail chain. But this isn't his bike. It would have arrived in Cuba, perhaps years ago, with one of his countrymen. It's long been a practice for Canadian visitors to bring old bikes, ride them for the duration of their stay and then leave them on the island in the hope that Cubans can put them to good use. And the Cuban who now owns this Supercycle has done just that, renting it to tourists such as this gentleman for 10 CUC a week.
   Good deal all around.

Where Cody LeCompte went wrong

It seems that detained tourists in Cuba areput up in beach resorts while the island’s wheels of justice grind along like the gearbox in a Russian tractor.
  Cody LeCompte, a 19-year-old from Simcoe, Ontario, has been forbidden from leaving the island since an April traffic accident in which the rental Hyundai Accent he was driving (hmmm, sounds familiar) collided with a dump truck. LeCompte and his three passengers were injured, and all spent time in hospital.
  Since then, LeCompte has been staying at a resort in Santa Lucia with his uncle. It's not clear who’s paying the bills.
Although the family insists the other driver was at fault, a Cuban court this week apparently decided that LeCompte must stand trial. His mother told reporters she’s heard the trial may not take place for six months to one year.
  Canada’s Foreign Affairs department says traffic accidents “are a frequent cause of arrest and detention of Canadians in Cuba” -- although if that’s the case, such incidents haven’t…

In pursuit of hire powers

   MOTORCYCLES MAY BE the most common type of taxi in Santiago, but they aren't the only choice. For travellers seeking more comfort and security – not to mention room for more than one passenger – here are some alternatives.

1. Gladway three-wheelerAt one time, it was safe to assume that any motorized trike in Cuba – flatbed, van, tuk tuk-style taxi – was an Ape (pronounced ah-pay, hand gestures optional) from well-known Italian manufacturer Piaggio. Even the homegrown coco taxis in Havana and Varadero ride on Ape underpinnings. Now, three-wheelers from China have joined the Chinese buses and cars already common on Cuban roads. The Gladway above is a product of the Shandong Mulan plant in Jinan, south of Beijing. Parent company Gladway Holdings Ltd. specializes in electric vehicles, but also offers gas-powered models.

2. Peugeot 404   In other Cuban cities, late-model Hyundais and ageless Ladas make up the formal taxi fleets, while older cars – generally American – served as fixed-…