The recent decision by the Obama administration to open up more trade and travel opportunities with Cuba has gained the attention from a seemingly unlikely population — car enthusiasts.
During the instability of the 1950s that led to the United States embargo, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro essentially banned vehicle imports to the island nation. With no new models available, Cubans have continued to drive their old 1950s-era vehicles — thereby maintaining one of the biggest collection of classic cars in the world. In fact, the vehicles have become a popular tourist attraction.
With the announcement of new travel opportunities, car enthusiasts see a new opportunity to get their hands on these rare rides.
However, experts warn that collectors should not get ahead of themselves.
The embargo can only officially be lifted by an act of congress, which could be years down the line. The current travel opportunities only permit tourists to return with goods valued at around $400.
The cars themselves, some say, may also present some problems.
While some are fully restored, beautiful vehicles, others are broken down and would require thousands in mechanical work to be up to par with current U.S. standards.
In addition, the improved relations, could also work in the favor of Cuban car enthusiasts who wish to keep the vehicles on the island.
After relying on antiquated parts and machinery for the past several decades, Cuban mechanics have been limited with the level of maintenance work they can successfully do on the island’s cars.
Given the opportunity to use modern parts and tools, car experts say, could have a profound impact on their ability to refurbish cars.