Havana’s Vintage Cars: So Much More than Postcard Fodder


Cruising down the Passeo de Marti. My favorite spot for panning shots like this one.

I had to mull this post over.

I asked myself: was a photo-essay showcasing the sexy (and perhaps not so sexy) vintage cars that I saw in Havana too cliché?

My conclusion: Probably. But what the hell.

Vintage_car_sportnoy-1-3I’m not a car person. As far as I am concerned, they’re just a mode of transportation; a means to an end. Yet on my recent trip to Cuba I found myself drawn to the colorful silhouettes and sensual curves that were zooming around Havana at lightning speed. (I’m not kidding, lightning. They drive crazy there.)

I realized that besides the fact that they are wonderfully photogenic, the cars represented far more than an iconic promo for holidays in Havana, they are a metaphor for the Cuban people.  Colorful, though worn by hardship. Resilient, over many years. Vibrant, in heart and spirit.


Central Havana before sunrise

Cuba’s fleet of classics are a source of pride and accomplishment (the average Cuban could dance circles around our auto mechanics) and a symbol of resourcefulness. Everyday, I saw men tinkering with their wheels on side streets and along the avenues, modifying spare parts that weren’t meant for cars, yet making them work. The island is populated by a sea of McGyver’s working miracles with bits of steel, rubber and wire.

So cliché be damned. They’re worth a salute.

I bring you Havana’s vintage cars!


Stopping for a light near the capital building.


I found this bouquet of flowers on the corner. Sad. But the car is awesome, don’t you think?


A little worse for wear, but just looking at this car you know it must have been stunning in its day.


I love the wooden hood ornament. Just gorgeous.


A peek inside the interior.


Another vantage point.


View from the roof of the Parqué Central hotel.


I saw a lot of this walking around town. Parts of people jutting out from their cars as they worked on them.


How cool is this baby? It was parked in what looked to be a bombed out lot.


A green machine in Old Havana.


One of the main drags in Central Havana.


This guy has  a lot of work ahead of him.


This guy just couldn’t get his car started, so….


He asked another guy with a truck to pull it with a rope (see it on the lower left of this image) and then he revved the engine.


A glimpse of the inner workings…


The guy offered to show me is vieja (old) engine. I have no idea what I was looking at. LOL


I loved this hood ornament.. snazzy!


A park in Central Havana where a lot of taxi drivers hang out in the a.m., their cars all lined up in a row.


Even obscured by the rain and a bus window, this car still looks hot.


Which car is your favorite?


~Taken while an invited guest of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop: Seeing Cuba: Discovering the Culture and People of Cuba

To see more pics and read about my adventure in Cuba, click here.

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