Vintage cars showcase the beauty of Cuba

Posted: 16-Sep-16 09:55

Oftentimes a visit to Cuba conjures up visions of vintage-style cars and pastel-coloured scenery. In a stunning array of visual storytelling, a series of photographs is used to piece together Cuba’s unique history and future. From packed city sidewalks to brightly hued buildings, a writer and photographer capture the island nation in an entirely new light.

Vintage cars showcase the beauty of Cuba

While many Americans have not yet experienced the sights and sounds of Cuba for themselves, it’s not uncommon for perceptions to include vintage-style American cars on the streets, surrounded by vibrantly coloured architecture and a rich history. That’s exactly what one writer and photographer displayed in an article recently published by The Sun.

Paired with accompanying photographs by Bobi Dojcinovski, author Neal Baker leads readers through various Havana streets, focused on the vintage cars of Cuba. All snapped in the midst of summer, Baker describes the capitol city as a “living car museum”, filled with old American vehicles preserved to last for decades. He points out that a majority of the cars are circa the 1940s and 1950s, prior to the beginning of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Paired with a ban on foreign car imports over the years, the author suggests locals were forced to maintain the old cars and keep them working.

While most of the vintage motors are bold reds, blues and greens, just two of the vintage cars displayed in the article are black. One is packed with a family cruising Havana streets while the other black car elegantly drives in front of an old building, contrasting the upkeep of some of the city’s architecture. Another family poses for a photograph in a classic white car.

Baker explains he sought to discover the real island of Cuba, isolated for years by political and economic constraints, yet on the cusp of commercial change. Baker writes:

The US embargo has dictated a lack of mass tourism and Americanization, leaving the island nation largely untouched by every day luxuries or conveniences considered normal and essential in the Western world.”

He backs up his point by including several photographs depicting Cuba’s aging infrastructure, like one of a bright blue car driving down a crumbling Havana street and an even brighter green car parked in front of a vibrantly coloured building, accented by a street in disrepair.

Still, there are contrasts, as another sky-blue coloured car drives past several buildings, some of which are visibly recently painted and nearly identical in hue to the car. In another picture a mustard-coloured car stands out passing by a green and yellow framed building while a vintage red car travels the famous Malecon, lined on one side by buildings and the other by crowds of locals and water views. Yet still, a bright blue car is also captured driving through Old Havana. A well-kept pink building provides the backdrop for a mint-coloured car parked along a city street beneath an equally well-outfitted balcony.

One particular photograph captures a dynamic red convertible passing by graffiti depicting communist heroes Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, a nod to Cuba’s past. The only one of the photographs to show a large number of people is that of a vintage taxi passing by a colourful street lined with locals on the sidewalks going about their daily lives, and freshly laundered wash hanging to dry from the residential balconies above.

While Baker and Dojcinovski reveal this is the Cuba captured on film this summer, the author notes the scenery will likely change in the future. For the time being, record numbers of foreign visitors are headed to Cuba, anxious to experience a country that has stood the test of time. It’s expected too that number will only grow as more and more Americans continue to flock to the island in search of authentic Cuban culture and tradition, which in many ways includes the vintage American motors. 


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