Vintage cars showcase Cuba’s rich automotive heritage

HAVANA (Xinhua) – More than 200 classic and vintage cars took over Havana’s famous Malecon seawall avenue as part of a colourful competition that showed locals and foreigners Cuba’s automotive heritage.

Considered living antiques from the first half of the last century, these vehicles are now an indispensable part of the Cuban landscape, whether for sight-seeing or as so-called almendrones, which means vintage taxis used by Cubans for daily transportation.

Showcasing the country’s best exponents was the goal of the First Classic Car Contest 2018 sponsored by Spanish hotel company Iberostar and the local club Amigos de Fangio.

A total of 208 cars were entered in the competition, among which only 15 were given prizes for being the best preserved and original.

The cars were chosen based on their technical condition, originality, external and internal condition, operation of the electrical system and other parameters.

A green 1956 Plymouth, owned since 1983 by local Ramon Ventura, was the winner as the jury estimated that it has preserved 98 per cent of its original condition.

Photo taken last Saturday shows vintage cars in Havana, capital of Cuba. – XINHUA

“I am very excited and the main thing of this competition is that it encourages us to keep the car as original as possible within the possibilities we have,” Ventura told Xinhua after winning the prize.

The engineer said his Plymouth only has a different paint colour and upholstery from the original model. The rest are the same as manufactured.

“It’s a hobby that we have to dedicate a lot of time to. Since a few years ago, we can import the pieces from the United States (US), but they are extremely expensive,” he added.

The popularity prize, chosen through online voting on the Iberostar website, was awarded to Gabriel Sanchez, owner of an impressive 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air.

“I spend a lot of my life fixing the car, keeping it in good condition and this award is the greatest satisfaction I can get in an event where there were very nice and competitive vehicles,” said the 27-year-old.

Guided by a 1948 Packard Clipper car, the imposing parade covered almost the entire seawall promenade and then entered the Paseo del Prado avenue reaching the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel recently opened in the Cuban capital.

Automobiles of US brands such as Buick, Cadillac, Plymouth, Chevrolet, Pontiac and Ford, as well as the ones from emblematic European companies Mercedes Benz, MG and Austin-Healey, among others, were entered in the competition in an attempt to highlight the living and historical memory of the island.