Top Gear meets the cars of Cuba
For decades, Cuba has made do with old Yank tanks. Now it’s finally opening its doors to shiny new stuff
Posted: 12 Dec 2013
In the Plaza de Armas, the market stalls offer almost nothing, unless you fancy a faded manual of Marxist instruction. But in a shady corner I meet Yojan Diaz. He's 48 but looks much older. His hands are shrivelled like dried tobacco leaves.
Diaz is so convinced the government will liberalise all car dealing that he is happy to give me his full name. He pulls a school exercise book from his pocket and shows me a photograph of what can only be described as a Frankenstein car. It's parked nearby, so I agree to take a look.
The chassis is a Sixties Austin Healey Sprite. The engine is ripped from a 2.0-litre Lada Riva. The windscreen and windows are Opel, the brakes from an old Audi quattro and the bucket seats salvaged from a TT. The transmission is Seat, the instruments Daewoo and the steering wheel is a fake Sparco that's linked to a steering column pinched from a bus. The fenders come from a Lada and the badge atop the bonnet is - well, what else? - Ferrari (fake).
Last - and my favourite - are the lights. Chevrolet, since you ask. But they do not work. What does work, if that's the right word, is a lantern mounted on the back of the passenger seat, wired to the cigarette lighter.