It is estimated there are more than 30,000 classic American cars roaming the streets of Havana. Visiting this alluring city is like taking a time machine back 60 years, and nothing is more indicative of this time warp than the treasure trove of classic American-made cars from the 1940s and 1950s. There are Chevrolets, Fords, Pontiacs, Buicks, Edsels, Dodges, Plymouths, and Studebakers. It’s the best collection of classic American cars in the world. Join photographer and frequent Cuba traveler, Kip Brundage, and a small group of photographers to look under the hoods and behind the scenes of Cuba’s classic car culture to meet the Cubans that drive this unique car culture.
A car in Cuba is the very symbol of independence and creates a strong sense of pride. If you own a car in Cuba you can work for yourself, earn a good living, and travel on your own schedule. Cars are often family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation. Most of these old warhorses really aren't classic American automobiles -- they're mutants. The underpinnings of the cars are likely an amalgamation of homemade parts and modified pieces that enable these ancient autos to run properly. Many of these classic cars have received four-cylinder transplants as a way to combat high gas prices. Another popular modification is a trunk mounted propane tank which enables the vehicle to be powered by a cheaper alternative to gasoline. Since few replacement parts exist, Cuban’s have turned to ingenuity and innovation by harvesting Peugeots, Ladas, and Moskvitchs (among many others) for their imperfect parts, but all of them are uniquely Cuban and powered by their love for cars and what they signify in their lives.
This trip is a people-to-people education exchange to discover and celebrate these venerable vehicles and the people who use them, fix them, and love them. Riding in classic cars throughout the week, we venture through and beyond touristy Havana to visit neighborhood garages and body shops where mechanical wizardry happens on a daily basis. We meet with car-owning Cubans from all walks of life to discuss the challenges of owning a vintage car in a struggling economy. Day trips outside of Havana to visit Ernest Hemingway’s country home and the small fishing village of Cojimar are just two of the highlights of this rich cultural exchange. Time is also set aside each day to meet with Cuban photographers and work with them on personal projects. Two image reviews with Kip and these Cuban photographers help advance your understanding of Havana’s classic car culture.
Our home base for the week is a beautifully restored colonial home, centrally located in the heart of Old Havana. While the rooms are small, they are comfortable and adequately appointed with modern furniture and private bathrooms. The gracious staff is friendly and attends to our every need. Breakfast is served daily, and we enjoy two lunches and three dinners as a group at paladars (private restaurants).
This educational program offers a rare opportunity to engage with the Cuban people and discover and explore the country’s cultural diversity through its love affair with classic America cars. Join Kip and our experienced staff in Cuba for a people-to-peoplecultural exchange enabling you to better understand this intriguing island and its capitol city.
True to the requirements of a people-to-people General License with U.S. Treasury Department, Havana’s Classic Car Culture, focuses on educational exchanges with Cuban people from all walks of life and recording their amazing lives with our cameras.