Classic cars in Cuba are also an essential part of its history.
Linked to politics, culture, the mafia and even feminism (they say that the first woman with a car license in Cuba ?she walked arrogantly in a red convertible car along the Prado and Malecón?), the so-called ?almendrones? They have been present, especially in Havana life, since the beginning of the 20th century.
In this article you will find:
- What is called an almendrón in Cuba?
- How and why were the ?almendrones? made?
- How do American cars get to the Caribbean island?
- Almendrones: rolling legends in Cuba
- Almendrones mechanics, the geniuses of the century!
- Do you dare to walk around Havana in an almendrón?
- Tips and recommendations for traveling to Cuba
In Cuba it is known as ?almendrón? to the American cars that roll through the streets of Havana since the 50s of the last century.
If you wonder why they were baptized with this name so sui generisname, the answer is simple: because the shape of these cars resembles that of a giant almond.
These cars, which already have Cuban nationality, are also known as "10-peso cars," since most functioned as fixed-route collective taxis on main streets and avenues.
Currently, the almendrones continue to operate as collective cabs, but the fare has already increased somewhat.
The drivers of these cars are known as ?boteros?, therefore, in the glossary of popular cuban phrases, someone who is dedicated to ?botear? he is nothing more and nothing less than a driver of an almendrón.
It turns out that, at the end of World War II, thousands of war tanks and guns were left in U.S. Army warehouses and parking lots, along with tons of steel from Japanese and German weapons and ships.
What to do with all that? Well let's say it was a good time to recycle. All the war scrap began to be used for the construction of automobiles.
For Americans, who were enjoying an unprecedented economic boom at the time, car ownership was established as one of the fundamental benchmarks of prosperity and status.
The new cars were large, elegant and powerful, which is why the North American automobile industry, which had paralyzed its civilian production since 1942 to devote itself to the manufacture of weapons, returned with new vigor four years later.
Thousands of these new American cars began to be imported into Cuba by enterprising entrepreneurs in the 1950s.
Various models of brands such as Chevy, Pontiac, Ford, Cadillac, Buick, Plymouth, Studebaker, Packard, among many others, became commonplace on the streets of Havana. According to statistics, in the 1950s there were more Cadillacs per capita in Havana than in New York.
These cars landed in Cuba during the time of Fulgencio Batista, who ceded Havana to test and promote the cars that would later be marketed in and from the US.
Many of them remained in Cuba and today they make up the fleet of luxury cars that give life and color to the streets of Havana.
A curious fact is that Hotel Iberostar Grand Packard, located in front of Havana's Paseo del Prado, bears the name of the famous American luxury car brand because its first floor was once home to Porsche and Packard car dealerships.
In Cuba, the almendrones have been preserved out of necessity, and this has been awakening a growing taste and interest in these luxury cars and in their conservation.
Cuba has more than 75,000 preserved classic cars, with manufacturing dates between 1920 and 1950. In Havana alone, more than 10,000 circulate.
These cars have promoted the passion for the ,, not only among its owners, but also among the thousands of passers-by who enjoy the spectacle offered by the almendrones in Havana.
Between 2016 and 2017 the celebrities and North American state officials walking along the boardwalk in Almendrón unleashed an unsuspected furor for these cars and placed the tour in a classic car through Havana at number 1 on the podium of the activities to do in Havana.
Although already since 2012 the Spanish firm YERSE had set its spring-summer collection in a Cuba whose most conspicuous element was the classic almendrón.
These cars without a roof, but loaded with size and elegance, are also an indispensable element in the photos that Cuban quinceañeras takeLong dresses of lace and tulle float over the seats of these cars, to be immortalized in the memories of that beautiful age.
A few years ago, it was also customary in Cuba for engaged couples to tour the city in the back seat of an almendrón, which makes its way through the streets with very original horns.
Between nationalizations and the economic blockade, American cars began to suffer more and more from a lack of spare parts and the maintenance necessary to survive in the tropical climate.
The owners of almendrones, even if they were not mechanics, had to assume this as their new profession, to keep their relic cars alive.
Everyone agrees that it is extremely difficult to get the parts and pieces of these cars, since they have not been marketed in Cuba since the 1960s and, to obtain them, they would have to be bought in the US or another closer country, which makes their cost much more expensive. maintenance or repair.
Although there are tenacious dreamers who, with a great deal of effort, have managed to create companies like nostalgicr.. Julio and Nidialys have this beautiful fleet of classic cars recognized worldwide.
In fact, Julio says that it was the famous American actress Susan Sarandon who baptized the company, confessing that when riding in an almendrón what he experienced was nostalgia. And yes, the almendrones carry a large dose of nostalgia, as they embody the contrast between the new and the old, today and yesterday, the great empire and the little Caribbean island.
The panoramic tour in a classic car through Havana will be without a seat belt, airbag, or ABS, but as authentic and fun as the landscapes that you will travel.
Driving in a convertible car in Cuba is more than taking a simple taxi and paying for the trip. It is coming into contact with years of history, it is getting into a car with pedigree, the main thing is to talk to the driver, who is surely an artist of mechanics. It is, like all the activities we organize, a journey of sensations.
We encourage you to visit Cuba, not only to drive through the streets of Havana in a brand new convertible car, but also to immerse yourself in its interesting history and architecture.
We also invite you to discover its traditions, its oldest colonial villas, the best accommodations, its unique corners of nature, its paradisiacal beaches, its Creole gastronomy and, above all, the friendliness of its people.
Here are some tips that may be useful on your trip to Cuba:
- Most emblematic Cuban colonial cities
- 15 things to see if you travel to Habana, Cuba
- Exclusive accommodations to travel to Cuba as a couple
- Private houses in Cuba
- Colonial Habana City Tour
- Circuit Cuba in 10 days
- What to see about art and architecture in Habana?
- 10 tips to travel to cuba carefree
See you soon!0