What you'll find may be disappointing.
Picture this: a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. It looks gorgeous on the outside with plenty of chrome trim and a tri-colored body. The interior may be in pretty good shape as well. But under the hood, well, that’s a very different story. Remember, this is a car that’s nearly 60 years old. Mechanically, plenty of work was done over the years to keep it running on Cuba’s roads because new cars weren’t allowed to enter the Communist island nation. A US economic blockade will do that, and gas prices are expensive, too.
So what could be under the hood today that’s both efficient and affordable? In the case of one Cuban owner of a ’57 Chevy Bel Air, it’s a Mitsubishi diesel engine. This isn’t a unique story for Cuban cars. Most of them have been heavily modified over the years to keep them running. And that right there will greatly diminish their value for potentially anxious American buyers. “There are a lot of Americans that have the dream of finding that rare car in Cuba,” stated Bill Warner, the founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “For the most part, the cars you see on TV are really pretty hacked up. You’d find better cars here in the United States."
The bottom line is that the Cuban classic car scene will likely turn out to be much ado about nothing. Serious collectors won’t find what they’re looking for because of all of those heavy modifications. Very little, if anything, remains bone stock. Parts specialists, however, could end up having a field day. So there’s that.