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Old Blue Chevy, Havana, Cuba
Nikon D300 & 18-200 VR set at 18mm
Yank tank or máquina are the words used to describe the many classic cars (for example: 1957 Chevrolet, 1953 Ford, 1958 Chrysler, etc…) present in Cuba with an “estimated 60,000” of them still driving the roads today. In 1962 an embargo was placed on Cuba by the United States, effectively cutting trade between the countries. This meant that the cars in Cuba, could no longer receive new replacement parts when something broke. Currently, the only way to keep these cars on the road today is by using Cuban ingenuity to adapt household products and Soviet technology into these vehicles. If a car is unable to be repaired at the time, the car is usually either “parked” for future repair or “parted out” (to produce extra income for the owner’s family) so that other cars can remain on the road. During the years of Soviet Union influence on Cuba, Ladas, Moskvitchs and Volgas became the main cars imported by the communist regime, mainly for state use. As a result of these internal economic restrictions, until this day there is also no such thing as a new or used private European or Asian automotive dealership branch in Cuba for independent purchasing by normal Cubans.
The only American cars that can be purchased for private use in Cuba (with “particular” plates) are those that were previously registered for private use and acquired before the revolution. However, if the owner doesn’t have the proper paper work “called a traspaso”, the vehicle cannot be legally sold. American cars that were present, at the time of the embargo, have been preserved though loving care and ingenuity. And since there were many of these, due to the presence of a past strong Cuban middle-class classic cars have been the standard, rather than an exception in Cuba.