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Hot Rods Cuban Cars

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by lothiandon1940, Apr 17, 2009.

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  1. Looks like the olive branches are being extended in an effort to establish a more "congenial" relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. I know the topic of Cuban cars has been discussed here before but, this may eventually make it possible to import some of those 50's and 60's vehicles to this country. What do you think. Anyone have any recently smuggled photos of what cars are still on the streets of Havanna? Would it even be worth the effort?
  2. The Hop Walla
    Joined: Aug 19, 2007
    Posts: 427

    The Hop Walla
    from Dallas

    I know personally that Cuba is crawling with vintage iron from the '40s and '50s. I've seen it with my own eyes.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  3. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,478


    i started a thread about this earlier today but i guess my thread title was a little to "off topic" my intent was to discuss cuban cars though, heres a couple of pics of cuban cars my GF took while we were there a year or so ago. it will be nice to see the cars there have a better future.

    Attached Files:

  4. By chance do you have any photos? Are you at liberty to discuss how it is that you've seen these cars "with your own eyes"? Thanks. p.s. Please don't say if you tell me you'll have to kill me:eek:

  5. aldixie
    Joined: May 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,643


    Most of them are frakensteins, most have eastern block engines now. There have been some good documentarys on them. Saw an interesting article on how they made their own brake fluid.
  6. Hooligan63
    Joined: Mar 1, 2009
    Posts: 1,343


    Here is the problem with a lot of the vintage American iron in Cuba:You guys hate rat rods.

    By this I mean most of those cars are repaired with whatever they could use because they had no US imported repair parts to fix those vehicles with.Seriously,imagine a 50's Bel Air with a Yugo motor and brake system or bodywork patched with paint can metal and chicken wire or road signs.:eek:

    I only know this because of a documentary I watched a while back on PBS,it was either"Classic American Cars of Cuba" or "Cuban Dreams"

    But,there are quite a few jewels over there.Here's a site where you can see some of what's over there:
  7. alexelchingon
    Joined: Mar 1, 2007
    Posts: 169


    I was there in 2004 and It blew my mind how many cars are still putting around. Most old american cars out there are pretty beat up but I saw a few 49-51 mercs, shoebox's, 49-54 chevys, buicks olds caddys that were in great shape. Not too many have the original drivetrain anymore, once the original parts take a shit, they swap them out and install russian 4 bangers.. Iasked a few dudes to pop there hoods and I was amazed at their ingenuity, like the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention!!!!Theres a whole crop " customizers" out there and they get by with very little, theres a few videos about cars in cuba but I dont remember the names. Going over there was like going back in time, really cool
  8. roddin-shack
    Joined: Apr 12, 2006
    Posts: 2,423


    I was over there a year ago, and most of them are junk as described in this quote. If you think rat rods are bad they are show cars compared to CUBAN cars. They are used every day and you can put on a lot of miles on shitty roads in 50 years, how about a 57 Chev. 4 door with a 55 Chev right front fender powered by a Bronco engine trans a rear end.:D
  9. cool37
    Joined: Jan 20, 2009
    Posts: 1,871

    from SoCal

    my guess is that most of the cars over there are pieced together. Since there was not parts were pieced from whatever they could find..maybe even some foreign parts! close to the lots of rust..but,it would be find on a treasuer hunt!
  10. yorgatron
    Joined: Jan 25, 2002
    Posts: 4,228

    Member Emeritus

    I don't think we're lacking for project cars up here in the States.
    however,I do think we should be allowed to send them spare parts in exchange for cigars.
    smoked1 likes this.
  11. Asphalt Outlaw Hero
    Joined: Dec 9, 2006
    Posts: 970

    Asphalt Outlaw Hero
    from Dixie

    Must stuff that comes out of countries that have been tended to by desperate people,tends to be "borderline".Cars there have Russian diesel motors and trannys.I saw some motorcycles that were smuggled out.They were in BAD shape.They had tried to braze onto alloy ,etc.
  12. Rick Sis
    Joined: Nov 2, 2007
    Posts: 710

    Rick Sis
    from Tulsa OK

    Someone that had been there once told me that there really are a lot of vintage American cars still on the streets. They also said that a low mileage cream puff was anything with under a million miles on it, and they are kept running by any means possible without the availability of a U.S. parts supply.
  13. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,478


    i dont think they have any trouble getting parts, i think its just they earn $25 a month, when i was there i saw a privately owned 56 chevy 4 door that looked mint, stock engine, body as smooth as glass, it did have funny chrome wheels.
  14. I think that it would only benefit they can keep all of their stuff going with the parts we are already having trouble finding.:( Although I did catch a documentary on HDNet about Cuban cars and there was this cat that had an business replicating stainless by hand, and it looked CHOICE! That being said, what is going on with Cuba and their love of American cars is the essence of hot-rodding. They LOVE the stuff and find ways to keep it going no matter what. THAT isn't ratrodding...putting a diesel engine in a Model A sedan "just cause it hasn't been done" is ratrodding!

    My $.02.
  15. Gruizer54
    Joined: Apr 23, 2001
    Posts: 84


    Good post Alex,
    by the way i love your avatar, Bob is my hero. "you know that art contest...I won, 500 dollars in prizes"
  16. 6-71
    Joined: Sep 15, 2005
    Posts: 542


    I saw the story on the news last week,and they showed an early 50's Mopar that had a straight axle under it.Either it was a Cuban gasser,or the worn out suspension was scrapped in favor of the straight axle.:)
  17. Read the thread titled "sawdust in the differential" and pay attention to any posts on shoddy bodywork. If you can deal with that - you're ready to buy a Cuban classic.
  18. fiftyv8
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 5,157

    from CO & WA

    Ive been there and seen them 1st hand and can say that most are junk but I have seen some awesome examples that I would love to own.
    Not all folks are poor, however the majority are.

    I think you would be shocked to hear what some of these owners with junk think their cars are worth and they are talking US$'s.

    I know of a Ford mid to late fifties Crown Victoria that ran and drove but was nothing special with original faded paint etc that was sold while I was there locally for nearly
    US$8,000 and that was 3 years ago.

    That tells me there are not likely to be any bargains had and more to the point at those prices who would want to do the shipping and running around with our Customs etc and still face the possibility of being ripped off on a deal ending up with no car and no money should Fidel step in at any time and decide that the deal wont be allowed to proceed as i have heard happens in some of there commerce stuff..
  19. people from other countries have been allowed to travel to Cuba......we have been on the outs with them..
  20. I find this thread quite interesting, US based hambers talking about importing 40's and 50's cars from Cuba!!!, Hell there has been thousands of USA cars exported to New Zealand from the USA over the last 2-3 years, now how many have made there way to Australia, UK, Scandi and Nordic countries??? :confused:

    If I had the do re me I would be busier than a one legged cat trying to bury a turd on a frozen lake buying classic USA cars now... :D
    26 T Ford RPU and waynos like this.
  21. Sauli
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 499


    Like someone else already said, I don´t understand this particular audience pondering the prospect of importing this stuff out of Cuba into the US. I´ve seen loads and loads of magazine articles as well as TV -documentaries in European media on this stuff over the last 30 yrs. Running as these hulks may be, the bulk of it is JUNK. Never mind the Easten bloc mechanicals, duct tape replacing broken/missing trim strips etc.
    The sheetmetal on the bodies is toast. Tropical humidity coupled with ocean salt air tends to have it´s effect over a 50-60 year period...Lots and lots of chicken wire and putty. Potato-bag body panels with 1/4 of an inch of paint on top. Plus the roads out there are crap, can´t imagine all those potholes having been too kind on the structure either. I just can´t imagine they might have anything that You couldn´t find in the US with a lot less hassle. After all, that´s where the stuff was made and sold in any substantial quantities to begin with.
    I don´t mean no disrespect, but another thing I can´t help thinking of in this context is whenever someone posts photos of some vintage stuff on the brink of going out to the baler at scrap value on here, out come the windbags from 4 states away saying "Oh man, I wish I were closer..." In that respect I can´t see that stuff being in that high of a demand either.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  22. Dirtynails
    Joined: Jan 31, 2009
    Posts: 843

    from garage

    Why bother?,there are thousands of similar cars in far better condition in your own country. The cars in Cuba are mobile toilets often just bodies with lada ,mitsubishi,toyota or what engines they can get underthem . just look at them as the odd curiosities they are.
  23. Hey Sauli, it's just that, pondering. I'm in no way considering sending a freighter over there to haul back hundreds of rusty hulks to the states. I just thought it was interesting that through sheer ingenuity and desperation these folks have managed to keep these cars on the roads for decades. And for all the clapped out, jury rigged, junkers, who knows, there may be some real prizes tucked away in garages with little bags of desicants to help control the humidity. Could be the ultimate "island find".
  24. mrdodge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2008
    Posts: 335


    Sounds like NZ about 40 - 50 years ago:D
  25. Was in Cuba back in Jan, I have been a couple of times,
    The Cubans are amazing in terms of what lengths they will go to keep these cars running,
    but then they can't sell them, or buy another.
    The cars are owned by families, if you owned one pre the revolution you got to keep it,
    but you can't legally sell it, or buy another.
    So they have had no choice, you keep your 50's classic going with what you can get,
    Down the years that has been a range of parts from many places depending on who was being Cuba's friend this week, Eastern block stuff was tough, and a good substitute for many years, but you also find cars wearing parts from many other places, you start examining the cars close up and find alsorts, some of the work is rough, but most is so good you got to look darned close to see how it's done.

    Fantastic place to go, and great to see how they have made the strange collection of parts from round the globe work, but I seriously would not think about taking one home.
  26. And yet everyone... well, Hollywood and the major news media and the like... thinks the Castro brothers are so great. I don't get it, Castro brothers, sounds like it should be a couple guys running a shady used car lot in Newark New Jersey.

    Then again I suppose if they start letting them sell cars, it would be Castro's Used Cars, I'm sure they'd get a big cut of every sale (thus explaining the high prices).

    I remember seeing one of the documentaries too. A guy was making asbestos brake shoe material to reline shoes, himself.. no masks, no filters, just grind, form, cook, done. They showed chain link fences that had been stripped bare - welding was hook directly up to power lines and use the fence wire for welding rod. And as noted a lot of cars picked up Russian, South American, Chinese engines and parts. There were cars with original motors that were still operable, but the motor might have been rebuilt 12 times with whatever was close enough adapted to fit in the block. It was really interesting to watch, but it also showed you that 98% of those cars you didn't want - you'd be better with even a northeastern car that's sat outside for 50 years.
  27. Castro Brother's used cars has a ring to it,

    I know it kind difficult to grasp how things work in Cuba,
    The state provides, you don't own anything
    ( unless your family owned it before the revolution,
    in which case it stays your family's ),

    My favourate is that it's not legal to not pick up hitch hikers,
    ie if someone is thumb out and you have an empty seat you have to stop,

    There it works,
    crime rate is very low,
    nothing to much steal,
    everyone fairly laid back, but that kind of thing would just not work else where.
  28. Hooligan63
    Joined: Mar 1, 2009
    Posts: 1,343


    That's the exact same documentary I saw.It was called Classic American Cars of Cuba and aired on PBS
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  29. captainflight
    Joined: Jul 7, 2007
    Posts: 196


    I was there a few years ago and yes some of the cars are butchered but an awful lot of them are in great shape with original drive trains. They baby them. Canada still trades with Cuba so parts are available if they can afford them. You can buy a car there but there is a huge export tax as their government knows the value of them. Lets hope all embargoes end soon and our brothers in the USA can travel there soon.
  30. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,906


    We here in the states junk alot of parts that they could use and it would be nice if they could get the parts we reject instead of those parts getting scrapped.
    Bubba1955 likes this.
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