Now that that U.S. is softening the trade relations with Cuba, is there a way that an individual can contact someone in Cuba and export auto parts? I have approximately 2000 fuel pumps that are new or rebuilt for cars in the 40-70's. Most of their cars are U.S. and fall in this vintage. I will take core value $7-$8 per pump.
The President can establish diplomatic relations, but the trade embargo is a law and only congress can change it. But I know the embargo isn't total, because we do export agricultural products to Cuba. Maybe the Department of Commerce or the State Department could tell you what's allowed.
I understand that most of those old American cars are running with Toyota engines, or whatever was/is available to them. Still, there's probably a lot of them with old motors.
They had to put Toyota engines in them R.S. had all the fuel pumps!
From what I have heard is that most "running" cars in Havana are running Russian or Japanese engines/transmissions and in some cases a whole chassis swap.
That said The Cuban mechanics are very resourceful and will use any part they have for 'X' purpose.
If you want to send these parts down there the only way I understand that you can is if you have family on the island... that said I am pretty sure the customs official will question 2000 fuel pumps!
On a side note... Cuba is probably one of the few places with proper T roads! And next year you will be able to go there via ferry from Key west with your car to the island...
Anyone up for a model T tour in Cuba!
Being a Canadian we've been able to go to Cuba for a long time. I've been 5 or 6 times. You don't see old American cars everywhere there. I saw them mainly in Havana. There are a lot of Russian?? or eastern European low end cars there too. the old American cars sure sounded like they had different engines in them. Some were 4 cylinder instead of 6 or 8's. They seem to want to keep the look but that's where it ends. Even if they had the correct engines I don't think they have any resources to pay for the pumps.
Robert is right about the roads being perfect Model T roads. Last time I was there we were on a bus from the airport to our resort. The road was a narrow 2 lane road like we had 60 years ago here. The bus slowed right down to a crawl. In front of us was a horse and cart trotting down the road. They have every right to be on the road there in Cuba so we crawled behind it until it was safe to pass! It's a very laid back atmosphere there. Go soon if you can. I expect it will all change as the country opens up.
There is quite a large divide between the reality and myths surrounding how Cuba is with respect to old cars.
They have been getting stuff thru Mexico and the like for years and many are diesel powered or re-engined with Soviet engines.
I doubt whether anything will happen fast and Govt will be just as tough as they have been in the past, they can't afford to see their currency leaving the country or have it flooded with USD.
Then there is corruption etc.
You would be best advised to find Cuban folks here with relatives over there with some interest in doing something small.
I appreciate the info. Several years ago, I sold pumps at Hershey and every year a guy from Canada would come to me an buy 20 to 30 pumps,(not for $7-$8) but more like $15-$30. I asked him what he did with the pumps. He said that he traveled to Cuba often and brought them there because even if they couldn't use the exact pump, they would use the parts. As I remember, he seemed to favor Chrysler, Buick, Oldsmobile and Chevrolet. I think there are people there that are not of the average class that even collect cars like we average people. They are not too visible in the population. Thanks again.
Russell R. There are laws about Cuban currency leaving the country. It is illegal. There are also two sets of currency. Cuban pesos and convertible pesos. One for the citizens. One for tourists. It allows millions of dollars to pour into the country without inflation driving down their own currency value. Rather ingenious actually. And I'm certain much won't change. Foreign investment will likely remain under current rules. Currently foreign investment is limited to under 50%. As for the cars the biggest reason for drive train swaps was fuel prices and car part prices. Parts could have been imported but it was exceedingly expensive. It's a fascinating beautiful country and in 7 weeks 5 days I'll be in Varedaro sipping on rum and enjoying an H Upmann
Cuban's love their cars and are very passionate about them.
I must admire how they have managed to keep them running with what little they had and have.
I have seen some amazing modifications used on their cars to keep them running.
Owning a 50's car over there when I was visiting was such a status symbol, it was like an American family of the 60's buying a new car.
Rarely, I am told do cars change hands and even more rarely do they ever leave the country.
Sadly at the time, I found the language barrier one of my problems when it came to talking with these guys about their pride and joy.
Mind you being such a tropical environment rust out is a major problem.
I was amazed at the range of Ford F series trucks that existed, good examples of f100's upwards.
I not sure about today, but about 15 years ago I made a trip to Columbia.
There were mostly old 1950's and 1960's cars on the road. (They seem to run good) It felt like a step back in time.
Talking to some locals, I found out that the tax system was the reason for the large amount of old cars. I was told that the tax on a new car was almost the same as the price of the car itself.
My wife and I would be interested in a (Model T) tour in Cuba. Let's see if we can get something going.
Lets get some pic's happening to make this more interesting.
The last pic is of an old English car sat on a Moscovic chassis.
This link is to an article in Hemmings with photos I took while in Cuba a couple of years ago.
I got a little camera shy after being detained for the best part of a whole day on the charge of taking photo's of Police officers on Embassy car point duty.
Even though not one photo was found on my camera, I got the full treatment at headquarters which included the rough treatment of my B & B hosts who were totally not involved at all.
Made us all sit in a concrete quadrangle at head quarters in the hot sun for about 5 hours between rounds of interrogations.
After hearing that, I would be very Cuba visiting shy. Not the best way for the authorities to encourage tourist dollars.
They are a paranoid bunch and are able to hand out brutal treatment, especially to the locals.
From an western outsiders view point, it looks like they are playing in a Get Smart TV show.
At the end of the day everything is under Government control, so it does not matter what deals you make with folks there, nothing holds up unless Government has a say and a hand in it...
Palms need to be greased.
Slip them aboard AF-1. ;>)
I got nabbed on a weekend and after thinking about it, that is probably their game plan since no Embassies are open to provide assistance.
Albeit at the time only Canada was represented for Westerners in trouble.
Graham Lloyd/Russell R.,
My whole family and I have really enjoyed the attached link. I can relate as I have had occasion to talk to some Cuban car guys now living in Miami, who have relayed personal stories of life in Cuba ( the govt controls everything). I want to say that some of those guys are true geniuses - what they accomplish with little to nothing just amazes me. I have the utmost respect for what those people have endured. I have a different attitude towards Cubans than most Americans who take freedom for granted, as well as parts stores/specialty retailers/resources of all types on every corner of their town throughout the whole country.
Yes, poverty is rife and good food is short, medical seems to be good as well as education.
The Govt runs two currencies one for the locals and one for the tourists.
Locals are encouraged to do odd work for tourists to acquire tourist currency so they go to special Govt Stores to purchase modern household appliances. Sadly it is mostly junk from China and is sold by the Govt to the poor people for hugely over inflated prices, so mostly their hard work is lost.
Food vouchers are the main way daily rations are obtained, but to go down to one of these Govt controlled outlets is also sad as there is basically very few choices and if one is lucky it could be on a day that new supplies have arrived providing some choice and if very lucky meat as well. I recognise that as a country goes the Communist experiment did not work and they have few resources with which to trade and it must be hell trying to run such a rundown country where everything is dilapidated.
The general population has been cheated and lied to for years with eastern European communist propaganda about the USA.
I met with a bunch of Cubans where I was staying and they told me about their annual military service and how they expected to be invaded by the USA at any time and the list of special weaponry that they could expect to be used. Amongst such a list was night vision googles I guess they are called, which I explained were about 20 years old and this was no new special information that Cuban spies had just discovered.
It would seem the locals are fed information which is out of date but managed to make the Govt look to be right on their game with defense etc.
The location of this conversation was the town of Guantanamo.
I asked this brave bunch of Cubans should we be invaded tonight and the Americans are coming over the hill at us and the Cuban army is on the other side and we are stuck in the middle which way should we run?
The answer was unanimously head for the Americans and be saved from this life of poverty and control.
I'd love to visit Cuba and my dream was to someday fly my own light plane there. That's probably not ever gonna happen, but I'd still love to visit. Sadly Cuba - like every other communist-controlled country, has to constantly lie to it's people in order to continue in power. A lesson that we need to learn.
From what I could determine, each city block had a nominated loyal communist who was given a telephone and was required to report any kind of activity in the area. Kind of like dob in your neighbour arrangement.
In Havana, I noted that after dark military looking Police would walked around the blocks all night keeping an eye on all that was going on.
These guys were heavily armed with two way radios and dressed like gestapo.
Funny how Castro seemed to be worried about a revolution against him after he had done the same thing to the previous administration.
What I understand, but how true it is I am not sure, that Castro lead his revolution and enticed many followers with false promises of his socialist/communist ideology, but once in power he either executed or imprisoned many who objected to his surprise and unexpected changes in philosophy from that of his original ideology.
I am not historian so I may have it all wrong...
In saying all that I don't really have any sympathy for the Batista Govt before him and do not see Che Guevara as any kind of hero.
Just getting back to a more of an old car side of things when in Havana I did see two model A Fords still working as delivery vehicles but never did get close enough to see what power plant they were running.
Sorry no model T's...