Cuba part IV - Yank tanks


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January 3rd 2017
Published: April 18th 2017
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BuickBuickBuick

"I sat in his lap in that big of Buick and steered as we drove through town"/ My Hometown

Cadillac, Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Dodge and DeSoto





Yank Tank is a nickname for large American cars made in the 1950-ies and 60-ies. For anyone who likes those cars visiting Cuba must be like coming to heaven because there are many such cars in use there.



One of the things we knew about Cuba before we set off on this trip was that many of the cars they drive are American cars from the 1950-ies. Before the Cuban Revolution in the 1950-ies almost all cars in Cuba were Made in America. After the revolution United States put a trades embargo on Cuba. The embargo stopped American car makers from selling new cars to Cuba. Another result of the embargo was that the Cuban economy plummeted. So they could not afford to buy new cars from other countries.



During the following decades Soviet shipped new cars to Cuba. But those cars were Soviet made. It's not a coincidence that the Moskvitch cars and the Vaz Lada cars never made it big west of the Iron Curtain because they were rubbish. Since the Cubans couldn't afford to buy many new cars and that the
BuickBuickBuick

Yank Tank is a nickname for large American cars made in the 1950-ies and 60-ies.
quality of the cars was inferior to the ones they were used to they took care of the cars they had before the revolution. Today, almost 60 years after the Cuban Revolution, thousands of these cars are still in use in Cuba. Some of them have been repaired beyond recognition but many of them are in surprisingly good shape. Most of those cars actually look better after running the Cuban roads for well over half a century than the German car Ake's family used to own looked like after running only 20 years on Swedish roads.



How can those old cars still look so good? The explanation is probably that the national hobby in Cuba is to keep the American cars running. They take extremely good care of them.



The large number of 50-ies era American cars makes Cuba resemble a time capsule. We sometimes felt like we had been warped back in time to United States in the year 1958 or like we were starring in a remake of American Graffiti.



As we mentioned above, not all cars in Cuba are Yank Tanks. But a large percentage of the car fleet
PlymouthPlymouthPlymouth

For anyone who likes 50-ies era American cars visiting Cuba must be like coming to heaven. A reader identified it as a Plymouth probably 1957 or 58. Another reader says she is sure it's from 1959
is. To give you a more balanced picture we have to this blog entry added a short film taken in Havana
.



When we looked at what Wikipedia had to say about Old American cars in Cuba we found something we would like to comment. "Of Cuba's vintage American cars, ... most bear the marks of decades of use" - surprisingly many of them do not bear the marks of decades of use. Quite a few look like they did more than half a decade ago.



Since we have dedicated an entire blog entry to the Yank Tanks it is obvious that we loved them. We don't speak much Spanish but we understood that the Cubans love the 50-ies era American cars as well. When we couldn't see which brand a car was we sometimes asked. The owner would answer "Ford Fairlane 1957" or "Cadillac Eldorado 1956". They always knew not only the make but also the model and the year it was built and they always said this with great pride in their voice.



We would like to make clear that we may love old American cars but we know very little about them.
Chevrolet 1957Chevrolet 1957Chevrolet 1957

"They haunt this dusty beach road In the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets"/ Thunder Road. A reader has identified this as being from 1957
In the photos we have tried to identify which car make it is but we failed just as often as we succeeded. If you know the brand of any of the cars, don't hesitate to tell us. If we got one or two wrong, don't get angry. Just point out our mistake and we'll fix it.



After we published this blogger Lorraine Brecht enlisted the help of her brother Gil Bourassa and her brother-in-law Roger Lapierre, both classic car aficionados, to help identify the make, model and year of most cars. We would like to send a big thank you to all three for your help.


Additional photos below
Photos: 69, Displayed: 24


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Chevrolet Bel Air 1957Chevrolet Bel Air 1957
Chevrolet Bel Air 1957

"I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396 Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor"/ Racing in the Street. A reader has identified this as being from 1957
PlymouthPlymouth
Plymouth

A reader of this blog identified this car as a Plymouth either from 1957 or 1958
DodgeDodge
Dodge

One of the things we knew about Cuba before we set off on this trip was that many of the cars they drive are American cars from the 1950-ies. A reader has identified this as a Dodge from 1950 or 1951
Oldsmobile 1958Oldsmobile 1958
Oldsmobile 1958

Before the Cuban Revolution in the 1950-ies almost all cars in Cuba were Made in America. Readers have identified this as an Oldsmobile from 1958
ChevroletChevrolet
Chevrolet

After the revolution United States put a trades embargo on Cuba. The embargo stopped American car makers from selling new cars to Cuba. Another result of the embargo was that the Cuban economy plummeted. So they could not afford to buy new cars from other countries. A reader has identified this as being from 1953 or 54
City tour in classic carsCity tour in classic cars
City tour in classic cars

These cars are used for driving tourists around. A reader has identified the left car as a Mercury and the right car as a Ford. Another reader has narrowed the left one down to being from 1955 however she claims that the right one is a 1951 Plymouth.
Chevrolet Bel Air 1955Chevrolet Bel Air 1955
Chevrolet Bel Air 1955

During the following decades Soviet shipped new cars to Cuba. But those cars were Soviet made. It's not a coincidence that the Moskvitch cars and the Vaz Lada cars never made it big west of the Iron Curtain because they were rubbish. A reader has identified this as being from 1955
Packard or PontiacPackard or Pontiac
Packard or Pontiac

Some of the cars are battered from more than half a century on the roads. A reader has identified this as a Packard. Another reader has identified as a possible 1954 Pontiac
Buick 1957Buick 1957
Buick 1957

Since the Cubans couldn't afford to buy many new cars and the quality of the cars was inferior to the ones they were used to they took care of the cars they had before the revolution. Readers have identified this as a Buick from 1957
ChryslerChrysler
Chrysler

After having been in use for maybe 60 years or so this car has gathered some rust. A reader has identified this as a Chrysler
Dodge 1956Dodge 1956
Dodge 1956

Today, almost 60 years after the Cuban Revolution, thousands of these cars are still in use in Cuba. Readers have identified this as a Dodge 1956
Plymouth 1959Plymouth 1959
Plymouth 1959

A sticker in the back says that this is a Plymouth. Readers have verified that it is a Plymouth 1959
Chevrolet Chevrolet
Chevrolet

Some of the old cars have been repaired many times over and it is a wonder they still work. Readers have identified this as a 1950 or 1951 Chevrolet
Pontiac 1953Pontiac 1953
Pontiac 1953

But many of them are in surprisingly good shape. Most of those cars actually look better after running the Cuban roads for well over half a century than the German car Ake's family used to own looked like after running only 20 years on Swedish roads. A reader has narrowed it down to the year 1953
Unknown make - possibly a Chevrolet, Dodge or PlymouthUnknown make - possibly a Chevrolet, Dodge or Plymouth
Unknown make - possibly a Chevrolet, Dodge or Plymouth

"You got a fast car I got a plan to get us out of here"/ Fast car. A reader believes that this car is either a Chevrolet or Plymouth. Another reader thinks it might be a Dodge or Plymouth
DeSotoDeSoto
DeSoto

One of Ake's favourite comic strip characters, Ernie Floyd in the comic Piranha Club, owns a 1957 DeSoto. Which year this DeSoto was built we don't know but it was probably in the second half of the 50-ies
Chevrolet 1953Chevrolet 1953
Chevrolet 1953

"If you want to use the car to go ridin' next Sunday"/ Summertime Blues. A reader has identified this as a Chevrolet 1954. Another reader says it is a Chevrolet 1953


18th April 2017

Yank tanks
Had to say "Ahhh" many times looking at the fabulous collection of Yank tanks in this blog Ake. Not that I can contribute to naming any but reminds me of Shell cards as a kid...cards we used to collect and swap of themes such as trains, birds, butterflies, shells...and cars. Brilliant!!!
18th April 2017

Many Ahhh- and wow-moments
We had many ahhh- and wow-moments when we were in Cuba. Note that almost all the photos are of parked vehicles. There were many more great looking cars that were driven around. /Ake
18th April 2017

Cars...
Well, when I see all those wonderful pics you've posted, it's almost like I start to think that the makers of the movie "Cars" first visited Havana...
18th April 2017

Movie cars
I guess it's not impossible. Or maybe they watched the movie American Graffiti. It's a really good movie and they drive cars the whole time. /Ake
18th April 2017

My brother & brother-in-law can likely identify most of the car makes ;o) They're both classic car freaks ;o)
18th April 2017

Ask them if they wish to see the blog
If they like American cars maybe they would like to read this blog. If you think so tell them about it. It would be fun to know what they think about it. /Ake
18th April 2017

Some are composites of more than one car.
18th April 2017

Interesting
The cars are all very old so it makes sense that they would have to use every trick there is to keep them running. /Ake
18th April 2017

My sister & bro in law used these as taxis when they were in Havana. The owners are so proud of their cars which they spend hours fixing with old parts or traded parts with other owners. If you google Cuban car repairs you'll get a list of sources & interesting videos on the topic. I saw a documentary last year that was excellent.
18th April 2017

I've forwarded your link to my brother & bro in law. Maybe they'll have time to enjoy & solve your makes issues.
18th April 2017

Thanks
Thanks for that. Hope they like it /Ake
18th April 2017
Plymouth

red unnamaed
57/58 plymouth
18th April 2017
Plymouth

stationwagon
again a 57/58 plymouth
18th April 2017
Dodge

green unknown
hood ornament suggests its an early 50's dodge
18th April 2017
Oldsmobile 1958

blue unknown
58 oldsmobile
18th April 2017
City tour in classic cars

city tour
left is mercury right is ford
18th April 2017
Packard or Pontiac

blue unknown
packard
18th April 2017
Buick 1957

white unknown
buick
18th April 2017
Chrysler

white unknown
chrysler
18th April 2017
Dodge 1956

blue unknown
?dodge
18th April 2017
Plymouth 1959

red unnamaed
yup plymouth
18th April 2017
Chevrolet

green unknown
? chev maybe studabaker
18th April 2017
Unknown make - possibly a Chevrolet, Dodge or Plymouth

blue unknown
hood emblem suggests chev
18th April 2017
Unknown make - possibly a Chevrolet, Dodge or Plymouth

blue unknown
or plymouth
18th April 2017
Chevrolet 1953

black unknown
54 chev
18th April 2017
Ford 1955

grey unknown
55/56 ford
18th April 2017
Plymouth

blue unknown
plymouth
18th April 2017
Oldsmobile 1955

grey/purple
55 olds
18th April 2017
Chevrolet

blue unknown
plymouth
18th April 2017
Chevrolet

blue unknown
nope - chev
18th April 2017
Oldsmobile or Buick?

purple ?
54 olds
18th April 2017
 Buick 1957

orange ?
buick or olds - olds i thihk
22nd April 2017
 Buick 1957

A big thank you
A big thank you for helping us identify makes and models of many of the cars we have taken photos of. It was a great help and we have updated the photos with your information /Ake
19th April 2017
Plymouth

1959 Plymouth
19th April 2017
Plymouth

Roger says 1959 Plymouth
19th April 2017
Chevrolet 1957

1957 Chev
19th April 2017
Chevrolet 1957

1957 Chev
19th April 2017
Chevrolet Bel Air 1957

1957
19th April 2017
Dodge

1950 or 51 Dodge
19th April 2017
Oldsmobile 1958

1958
19th April 2017
Chevrolet

1953 or 54
19th April 2017
City tour in classic cars

Red = 55 mercury, pink = 51 Plymouth
19th April 2017
Chevrolet Bel Air 1955

1955
19th April 2017
Packard or Pontiac

1954 Pontiac?
19th April 2017
Buick 1957

1957
19th April 2017
Dodge 1956

1956 Dodge
19th April 2017
Plymouth 1959

1959
19th April 2017
Chevrolet

1950 or 51 Chev
19th April 2017
Pontiac 1953

1953 Pontiac
19th April 2017
Unknown make - possibly a Chevrolet, Dodge or Plymouth

1950 or 51 Dodge or Plymouth
19th April 2017
Chevrolet 1953

1953
19th April 2017
Ford 1955

1955
19th April 2017
Chevrolet

1950-52
19th April 2017
Oldsmobile 1955

1955
19th April 2017
Oldsmobile or Buick?

1953 Buick
19th April 2017
 Buick 1957

1957 Buick
19th April 2017
Ford

!949-51 Ford
19th April 2017
Chevrolet

!953-54 Chev
19th April 2017
Chevrolet Biscayne 1958

1958 Chev Biscayne
19th April 2017
Chevrolet Biscayne 1958

1958 Chev Biscayne
19th April 2017
Dodge Coronet 1959

1959
19th April 2017
Oldsmobile

1953-54 Olds
19th April 2017
Chevrolet

1950-52
19th April 2017
Chevrolet 1957

1957
19th April 2017
Ford Fairlane 1957

1957 Ford Fairlane
19th April 2017
Oldsmobile 1954

1954? Oldsmobile
19th April 2017
Chevrolet 1960

1960
19th April 2017
Ford Customline

1953 or 54
19th April 2017
Buick 1959

1959 Buick
19th April 2017
Ford 1956 (probably not a Thunderbird and definitely not silver coloured)

1956 Ford
19th April 2017
Chevrolet Bel Air 1956

1956
19th April 2017
Chevrolet 1958

1958 Chev
19th April 2017
Chevrolet 1957 (probably not a Corvette though)

1957 Chev
19th April 2017
Dodge Coronet 1959

1959
19th April 2017
DeSoto 1956

1956
19th April 2017
Oldsmobile 1958

1958 Oldsmobile
19th April 2017
Chevrolet

1953 or 54 Chev
19th April 2017
Cadillac 1954

1954 Cadillac
19th April 2017
Chevrolet

1951 or 52
22nd April 2017
Chevrolet

A very big thanks for all the coments
Thank you so much for taking all that time to provide me valuable details or models, makes and years of many of the cars featured in this blog entry. /Ake
22nd April 2017

The joys of Cuba!
Havana has so much to offer and the cars are just a tip of the iceberg. Sounds like you are having fun. The photos tell all we need to know. American cars are preserved in Cuba (except they have Russia engines) Fantastic photos.
22nd April 2017

We loved it
We loved it in Cuba. We had great fun. Really, the American cars should be officially protected as a cultural heritage or something. Thanks for the comment /Ake

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