News report | | 29/10/2021 | ±4 minutes reading time

Cuba itself is a unique and charming island, and everything from the sunny weather to the lively people all play a part in making Cuba the delightful island that it is. With a Cuba visa you will be able to experience all of this yourself.

One of the most interesting aspects of this country is the fact that a lot of the island seems to be frozen in time. The revolution in the 50s was and still is a difficult topic to truly summarize. Whatever your opinion is on this moment in history, it is undeniable that it’s legacy is still very much visible, and has shaped the island into what it is today. The resilience of the Cuban people is visible in the vintage car culture that has become a part of the country’s image across the world.

Many of the streets of Cuba, the bigger cities in particular, are lined with vintage American cars ranging from the 1930s to the 1950s. Most of the cars are from the 1950s, which does a lot to help keep the feeling of the revolutionary era in the air.

How the cars made it to Cuba

Due to the proximity to the USA, American cars were imported into Cuba since roughly the beginning of the early 20th century. Brands like Chevrolet, Ford, Cadillac, Dodge, and Buick were seen all commonplace throughout the country. It is estimated that there were about 143,000 imported cars on the island in the mid 1950s.

After the revolution in the late 50s, the US embargo was established and Fidel Castro banned American cars and mechanical parts from being imported. After the revolution, the country had to rely on cars from other communist countries, and the island started importing cars from the Socialist Block.

The American cars tended to be much more durable than the cars from Eastern Europe at the time, so many of the American cars were repaired in an attempt to keep them running. However, without the proper parts available, it meant that people had to get creative.

Cubans get creative

While driving around Cuba, seeing people hunched over and fixing classic cars is as common to see as the swaying palms. It is thought that somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000 cars are still in the country. Because of the complicated economic issues of the country, these cars are passed down within a family from generation to generation and are considered important heirlooms.

Since there is an embargo and a ban on car parts imposed by the government, many of the parts needed are simply unavailable. So the people of the island have had to resort to all kinds of ways to keep the cars in running condition. Cuban ingenuity has kept these retro classics on the road. Regular folks become actual mechanics out of necessity.

It is not uncommon to see a classic car with parts from different models, years, modified to fit the old classics. Classic Pontiacs and Studebakers with Russian Lada engines and Volga mufflers are simply part of the norm. Hood ornaments are sometimes made from melted scrap metal. Given what the people of the island have been given to work with, it is no wonder that Cubans are renowned for their mechanical ingenuity

Tour around Cuba in Classic Cars

Travellers can take driving tours in a lot of these classic cars. Spots like Varadero and Havana Vieja usually have spots where there are rows of beautiful vintage cars lined up for the visitors to choose from. You can pick a car you think is nice and just let the driver know how long you’d like to drive around for. The drivers will usually have a nice route planned out. Many cars are convertibles, which is very lovely to drive around in, especially at dusk.

There are also vintage cars that serve as taxis throughout the country. This can be an interesting experience as well because while the cars available for tours are usually in very good condition, these taxis are usually in less pristine condition. These taxis function as a method for locals to get around, so they experience much more wear and tear.

It is always impressive to see how the locals have been able to keep the cars together, and for an extra kick, if you ask the taxi driver about the car there is a very good chance they will tell you all the ingenuity involved in keeping the car in running order.

Apply for a Cuba visa

Seeing these cars in person is truly a sight to behold, and to get to Cuba, you will need to apply for visa. The Cuba visa application can be filled in quite easily, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Cuba visa costs £39.95 and after online payment, you will receive the visa card by mail.

The Cuba visa is a paper document consisting of two parts. On both parts you must fill in the nationality, first name, surname, passport number and date of birth by hand. Upon arrival, one part of the Cuba visa will be torn off and kept by the travel authorities. The second part of the visa will be taken when you leave the country. It is recommended that you keep the visa with your passport.