Your money’s no good here

   American car buffs anticipating the pending (perhaps) cancellation of U.S.-Cuba travel restrictions are probably already dreaming of bringing home a ’57 Chevy Bel Air. Maybe with its trunk stuffed with cigars.
   Barring, however, any complete political change in their southern neighbour, they’ll learn what Canadian and European car collectors already know.You can look, but you can’t buy.
   Sales of pre-Revolution cars and trucks are allowed, but only between Cuban citizens.
   The Yanks will note too that most of Cuba’s much travelled cacherros – even the ones that haven’t been fitted with Mitsubishi diesel engines and Peugeot disc brakes – have been patched up and warmed over far too many times to hold much value in the American market. You want a ’54 Monterey sedan? You can probably already find a good example for reasonable money without leaving your area code.
   Old cars were briefly offered to outside buyers, during the “special period” after the collapse of Soviet aid when Cuba was particularly desperate for foreign currency. The cars were state-owned, perhaps seized after their owners rafted off to Florida.
   But even then, the cars were sold only in lots of five or six, of which one might be desirable and the rest were beaters.
   Rumours, though, persist (as all good rumours do) of rare cars kept stashed away in sheds and garages – in perfect condition, of course  awaiting the day when they can be sold to rich foreign collectors.
   So maybe a ’58 Eldorado Biarritz, or a final-year Golden Hawk, or even Batista’s ’56 Corvette, is there to be had.
   Find me that ’Vette, and I’ll give you a cigar.

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