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
"There are a lot of cars like this in Cuba," Diaz explains apologetically. "After the revolution, we couldn't get parts. We had no money for imports. So, we just used what we could find." It's the same for maintenance. "We use shampoo for brake fluid. We cut up iron pipes for piston rings. Coca-Cola [the local Communist variety] loosens bolts. And we paint the cars with sponges and buff them with toothpaste. We call it ‘the Cuban way'."
How does this Austin Healey-Lada-Seat-Audi-Chevrolet-Daewoo-Ferrari handle? "It's tricky," says Diaz. He forgets to mention downright dangerous. After the Soviet Union collapsed in the Nineties, the Cuban economy nosedived. Fuel was so scarce that motorists did not leave it in their car's tank because they feared thieves would siphon it out. So they took to using small plastic bottles of petrol that they hung on the rear-view mirror with a rudimentary pipe running to the engine. The car Diaz is selling is this type.