A Car Culture
When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, the importation of foreign cars and parts for the majority of Cubans became almost impossible. So, for the last 58 years, Cubans have kept their vintage cars running by pulling parts from old Chryslers, Fords, Chevrolets and more, along with customizing their own. This situational necessity has created a mechanic culture, and a country known for inventive repairs. This approach to auto repair created a small industry in Cuba, that has embraced capitalism, and as a result, taken a small part of the country’s economy.  Often costing more than $40,000, modern cars are too expensive for the majority of Cubans who earn about $20 a month. This lack of access has continued to force Cubans into mending their vintage cars. It is estimated that there are around 60,000 American cars in Cuba, with half of these cars originating from the 50s, and the rest from the 40s and 30s. The car culture has made these classics into family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation. The ingenuity surrounding the mechanic need in Cuba has allowed imperfect parts to be given homes in vintage cars.
These cars have found a way of becoming so much a part of the Cuban identity, that a future lifting of the embargo would dramatically shape cultural identity and the classic aesthetic of Cuba. But, with a lifted embargo, the Cuban automobile market would be given access to proper parts, allowing the possibility of the same classic cars being able to run for many decades to come.