Fortune tells the story behind Cuba's first new U.S. car in 58 years

Posted: 30-Sep-16 16:27

An article published on Fortune magazine’s digital edition illustrates the amazing adventure that entailed bringing to Cuba the first brand new U.S. car in nearly six decades. Writer Sue Callaway tells the story behind such a remarkable feat, one that saw a cutting-edge Infiniti Q60 parade down Havana streets to the amazement and admiration of locals and tourists alike.

Fortune tells the story behind Cuba's first new U.S. car in 58 years

A prestigious American car designer of Cuban ancestry recently made it to Cuba to trace back his roots (and that of his famous past Cuban relatives responsible for designing some of the island’s most iconic structures). To mark such a special occasion, he brought with him a modern U.S. car of his own design, instantly becoming the first brand new American four-wheeled vehicle to make it to Cuba in over half-a-century.

His name is Alfonso Albaisa and his ancestors were famous in the island for being governors, architects and in the case of his great-aunt, married to Cuba’s national independence hero and writer, Jose Marti. It seems that despite not knowing the land his parents so fondly spoke of (they left Cuba two years before Alfonso’s was born) as he grew up, he inherited something from his longline of talent and became a successful car designer.

Now the corporate vice president and design chief of Infiniti - the American-based luxury division of Japanese car maker, Nissan - Albaisa got two wishes granted in one when Infiniti gave him the green light on bringing his latest car design with him on his trip to Cuba. But it was mostly thanks to the ease of regulations on travel to Cuba by the Obama administration, that this personal self-fulfilling journey was possible for Mr Albaisa, who grew up in Florida with vivid images of Cuba through numerous photo albums. Fifty years on, he was finally able to accomplish a lifelong dream.

That’s how the brand new Infiniti Q60 coupe made it to Havana’s streets, drawing crowds of admiration from locals and tourists alike. A fresh breath of air in comparison to the capital’s famous classic American cars from the 50s, the Infiniti Q60 made instant history as it rolled its way down Havana, 58 years after the city had seen the last American car entering its territory.

During his whirlwind four-day Cuba holiday, Albaisa met up with a cousin and together they toured the sites where his great-uncle Max Borges-Recio had left a mark, namely in the construction of iconic Cuban buildings such as the Tropicana Club (the stage for the famous Tropicana shows) and the popular Club Nautico, among many others. Borges-Recio was one of the island’s most successful architectures of the time and it was at this point that Albaisa revealed how he all his life he had been strongly influenced and inspired by his great-uncle architectural style.Growing up he closely studied his work through series of family photos capturing such sites.

Before leaving Cuba, on the very last night of his trip, Albaisa attended a private art gallery exhibition, directed by Adam Perugorria, the son of Oscar-nominated Cuban actor and painter, Jorge Perugorria. According to his own words, this event was one of the trips’ most cherished highlights, where he got to meet a few design students and young artists.

He ended his trip dedicating a few words to fellow Cuban architects, artists and designers with whom he says he can clearly see how he shares DNA in the way they exude passion in their eyes, adding the he believed them capable of great things:

“From the passion in their eyes, I could see that DNA-wise, we are the same, if my family could escape the island and I could end up designing luxury cars in Japan, then they can do great things too.”

That night a few Cuban students had told him they wanted to get into car design too, and after identifying with them on an artistic level, he shared his passion with words of encouragement.

Note: Image credit to Fortune Magazine and Alfonso Albaisa.


Popular Holidays in cuba

OUR EXCLUSIVE DEALS AND LATEST OFFERS

Best Value

From £599 per person
villa pinares de mayari

Villa Pinares De Mayari

4.0 stars

Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £619 per person
villa mirador de mayabe

Villa Mirador De Mayabe

2.0 stars

This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
sercotel club cayo guillermo

Sercotel Club Cayo Guillermo

3.0 stars

The perfect haven for lovers of nature in its purest state, the Villa Cojimar hotel sits in an idyllic location amidst...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
club amigo atlantico guardalavaca

Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca

3.0 stars

Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
tryp cayo coco

Tryp Cayo Coco

4.0 stars

The perfect beach holiday awaits you the all-inclusive Tryp Cayo Coco hotel, where non-stop entertainment and utmost...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £699 per person
memories holguin

Memories Holguin

4.0 stars

Enjoy a perfect beach setting while you unwind in the historic sands of the all-inclusive Memories Holguin. A short...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation

More deals


Explore cuba your way

Tailor made cuba holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 0207 644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us