For those of us not privileged enough to experience the “Roaring 40’s” or “Fabulous 50’s” of America, there is still an integral piece of the Baby Boomer generation on display in the streets of Havana.
At the height of the Cuba-US relations, and just prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, America was importing the latest models of Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler, and more into the island’s capital city. Styles at that time were flashier, longer, wider, sleeker, and more extravagant than ever before. In hindsight, it was certainly an interesting and more glamorous point in America’s car production history to place an embargo and cease importation.
This gave birth (years later) to a small slice of economic opportunity for the Cuban people to hold onto in a time when all privately owned entities and small businesses were being swallowed up by a stringent Soviet-backed Cuban government.
The Cubans fortunate enough to acquire a vintage American car (in addition to exorbitant prices, special permits were both mandatory and hard to come by) are able to make an honest living carting tourists around the streets of Havana at up to $30 a trip (going rates depend on the “wow!” factor of the car and of course distance traveled). But at $30, one ride can be a payday of more than a month’s salary for the average Cuban. These entrepreneurial Cubans have created what’s now a miniature ride-sharing economy that has operated independently of the government, and to much success.
This Uber-esque platform is an underlying contributor to the Cuban economy that American tourists are more than happy to support; with cab fares going directly into the pockets of the Cuban people and bypassing the filtration tactics of the Castro family and a totalitarian Communist State.
The next time you’re in Havana, take a ride in style and be sure to tip your driver.
Enjoy some shots of Cuba’s classic cars and vintage Americana in the gallery below:
Photos by Brad Gustafson and Sullivan Cox | All Photos Property of Loki Media