Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New gloss on Cuba's classic cars

New gloss on Cuba's classic cars
Published October 20, 2014 Associated Press

When Martin Viera's Chevrolet rolled out of the dealer's lot, Harry
Truman was president of the United States, gasoline cost 27 cents a
gallon and a 24-year-old lefty named Tommy Lasorda was pitching for
Almendares in the Cuban winter baseball league.

That world is long gone, but the Chevy's still running on the streets of
Havana — part of a fleet of classic cars that have become an icon of
tourism in the socialist nation.

For decades, the cars slowly decayed. But officials in recent years have
eased state control over the economy by allowing limited
self-employment. So those lucky enough to have a pre-revolutionary car
can earn money legally by ferrying tourists — or Cubans celebrating
weddings — along Havana's waterfront Malecon boulevard.

That's allowed many to paint and polish their aging vehicles.

Viera's 1951 Chevrolet and Osmani Rodriguez's 1954 Ford are now part of
Havana's tourist draw.

Rodriguez, who has three daughters, said the opening to self-employment
"was a great benefit for me. I bought an apartment to live in and really
it improved my standard of living a lot."

The cars may gleam on the outside, but they're often battered, rolling
monuments to ingenuity within. People like Yoandri Failu fabricate parts
in crude workshops. Many scavenge parts, particularly engines, from
Soviet-era cars and trucks.

While the U.S. embargo that took effect in 1961 stopped the flow of new
cars, and most parts, a few Cubans now manage to bring in replacement
parts when friends or family visit from the U.S.

Source: New gloss on Cuba's classic cars | Fox News -

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