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Nostalgic Cars: Sour Automotive Fruit Of Cuban Embargo Gets New Life

Daily traffic in Havana resembles a vintage car rally, even if it does share the city streets these days Hyundais and Peugeots and rattletrap Russian Ladas.
Eyder Peralta
/
NPR
Daily traffic in Havana resembles a vintage car rally, even if it does share the city streets these days Hyundais and Peugeots and rattletrap Russian Ladas.

In Havana, Cuba, the old cars that crowd the streets used to symbolize a stagnant nation. Now enterprising Cubans have begun renting cars out to tourists who are hungry for the cars of their youth.

During my reporting trip to Havana, I spoke with Julio Alvarez, the owner of Nostalgicar in Havana.

Julio Alvarez standing in front of Lola, a 1956 Chevy Bel Air.
Eyder Peralta / NPR
/
NPR
Julio Alvarez standing in front of Lola, a 1956 Chevy Bel Air.

He joked that one thing Cubans should thank Fidel Castro for is all the old, majestic American cars that are now making him money.

You can listen to the story using the player above.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The hood of Nadine, a 1955 Chevy Bel Air.
Eyder Peralta / NPR
/
NPR
The hood of Nadine, a 1955 Chevy Bel Air.
The hood ornament of a 1955 Chevy Belair. Under new more liberal policies instituted in Cuba the past few years, the owner, Julio Alvarez, started a restoration shop and named the car Nadine. Its baby-pink counterpart is named Lola.
Eyder Peralta / NPR
/
NPR
The hood ornament of a 1955 Chevy Belair. Under new more liberal policies instituted in Cuba the past few years, the owner, Julio Alvarez, started a restoration shop and named the car Nadine. Its baby-pink counterpart is named Lola.
Everything but the motor on Nadine, a 1955 Chevy Bel Air, is original.
Eyder Peralta / NPR
/
NPR
Everything but the motor on Nadine, a 1955 Chevy Bel Air, is original.

Robert Siegel is senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel is still at it hosting the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reporting on stories and happenings all over the globe. As a host, Siegel has reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
Robert Siegel
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.