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Is Cuba A Hidden Trove of Classic Cars?

Collectors developing barn fever as US-Cuba relations thaw.

by on Jan.30, 2015

The rusted hulk of a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe found in a Cuban yard.

Anywhere you wander in Cuba you might feel like you’re caught in a time warp, if for no other reason than the steady stream of half century-old Chevrolets and Fords that dominate the communist country’s roads.

They’re the automotive equivalent of “zombies,” suggests Ken Gross, one of America’s foremost experts on classic cars. “They’ve gone on far longer than they were designed to,” patched together with baling wire and anything else that cash-strapped Cuban owners can find.

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While most Cuban cars are old American hulks, there have been several recent reports of vehicles far more exclusive and desirable, including a pair of rusted Mercedes 300SL Gullwing coupes – vehicles that, in good condition, can command upwards of $500,000. So, with Cuba and the U.S. talking about finally ending the diplomatic standoff that followed the communist takeover, there’s been a bit of so-called “barn find fever” incubating among classic car collectors.


Cuba Legalizes Car Ownership

What happens to those pre-Castro Chevys?

by on Sep.29, 2011

Somehow, Cuban drivers have found a way to keep their cars going -- seemingly forever.

It’s been a matter of pride – as much as frustration – for Cuban drivers to maintain a fleet of vehicles that dates back to the pre-Castro era, mostly American Ford, Chevrolet Bel and even long-gone Studebaker.   But starting October 1st, the Communist government  takes a significant step that could ultimately change the face of a country that, to tourists, has seemed lost in time.

Published in the party’s Official Gazette after months of delays, the new law won’t necessarily bring a flood of new Chevys and Fords – never mind Toyota, Volkswagens or Hyundais – to the island nation.  But it will take the first step by legalizing the sale and purchase of automobiles by all Cuban citizens.

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Only a rare few have been allowed to actually trade cars, and the number who could anything new – notably Russian-made products like a Lada – was even smaller, mostly doctors, musicians and athletes who have been given permission to travel abroad.  A limited number of government workers have also been given cars – though use was closely monitored, reports the AP.