Mar 07 2009

Havana: World’s Largest Living Museum of American Cars

I recently visited Havana, Cuba on a government-approved mission with a group of 24 other people. My secondary mission was to photograph the classic American cars still on the streets of Havana. During a five-day stay, I took photos of around 60 classic Buicks, Plymouths, Olds, Cadillacs,Dodges, Pontiacs and Fords. I will be posting my favorite classic American cars of Cuba over the next month.

Several classic cars wasphotographed in front of the Capitolio, the symbol of Havana. Until 1959, it was the home of the Cuban government. It now houses the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.

Here are close-ups of some of the cars. Can you identify the make and year?









Mar 10 2009 Mark Dill 2:26 PM

Cool stuff, Howard. This confirms Havana’s rep as a haven for 1950’s American cars!

Mar 15 2009 Larry Vigneaux 1:07 PM

Amazing - they’re pristine!  As if if right out of the factory—beautiful!

Mar 15 2009 Robert E. Richer 1:26 PM


Is that a 300-C Chrysler?

Sad to think that under the present impoverished management, we’ll see no more of those grand buildings constructed.  Having gone to school with one of Baptista’s sons, it’s safe to say that the “good old days” truly are but a memory.

My son visited Cuba about 18 months ago.  As a professional photographer, he was in heaven, that the people were wonderful, but that he was watched very carefully.

Thanks, Howard.


Mar 15 2009 Richard Motycka 6:33 PM


I was there a couple of years ago.  It was interesting to note that the cars were taken care of a lot better than the buildings.  But then again, the State owns the buildings.

Nice pix and your video brings back some good memories.


Mar 15 2009 robert blake 7:18 PM

Looks like a 56 Imperial with AC from the rear quarter vents. 55 buick twin-pak,  55 caddy and 56 ford as well as 53 chevy and 59 chevy.  57 Poncho is neat.

Mar 15 2009 Howard Kroplick 11:08 PM

Thanks for the comments and input!

It was truly amazing to see these cars being used on the streets. At any given time, you could see 3 or 4 of these cars at any busy Havana intersection.

Among the best kept classic cars are owned by the government and used as taxi cabs for tourists. They can be identified by the blue license plates and the “Grancar” logo on it side.

The classic cars with yellow license plates are privately-owned, passed by the owner’s family. There is great pride in caring for these cars, since they are considered a symbol of the city, similar to the San Franciso cable cars.

Other American 1950s cars, usually in poor condition, are used as boteros, livery cabs for the people. Off-limits to tourists, these cabs usually pick up 3 or 4 fares at a time.



Leave a Comment