Photo Essay

Creative Car Repair in Cuba

Chevrolet Ford

Creative Car Repair in Cuba

In most western countries it depends on the cost of the repairs in relation to the value of the vehicle weather a car gets repaired or not after a major accident. This is quite different in Cuba. If a repair is possible, it will be done. If it will take some miracle work, that too will be done.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw this Ford F150, a vehicle that is extremely rare in Cuba due to the trade embargo, disguised as an ancient Chevrolet. While I did not get a chance to talk to the owner, I'm pretty sure that this truck was "totalled" at some point and the damage to the front of the truck was so extensive, that most of the body parts were beyond repair. It is just speculation, but I would not be surprised if that's how this truck ended up in Cuba in the first place: as a wreck. In most places a wrecked pickup has no value. Fixing it is considered a waste of time as there are plenty of other used vehicles available for less than the cost of the repairs.

Another vehicle I came across during my time in Cuba was a 1980's Volkswagen with a totally different front, made up of what seemed to be random parts. For a car enthusiast both of these vehicles are unique treasures, created by skilled people who probably had a lot of fun in the process. Perhaps we are way too quick to scrap vehicles for minor problems in many "fast paced" countries. Over the years I have seen many beautiful cars sitting in junk yards due to minor problems. Often it made me wonder what I was doing, trying to find parts to fix my own ugly old cars, when other people just discarded really nice ones that had lesser problems than I was dealing with that day.

My visits to Cuba have cured me for now. It is very inspiring to see what can be done to keep older cars on the road with basic means. This kind of work may be time consuming, but is very rewarding at the same time. In the case of the "Chevord" it is definitely a form of art.

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4 responses

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (29 Apr 2009):

    I really enjoyed your story...you are a good writer and the photographs to go with the story are excellent...Giving you a vote!

  • Jim Pope

    Jim Pope gave props (30 Apr 2009):

    Great photojournalism with a truly relevant perspective on our disposable society. Maybe if we took a lesson from the Cubans we wouldn't be in as big a mess today.

  • JOE FAILK

    JOE FAILK gave props (30 Apr 2009):

    Excellent stories and photos!! Vote

  • Rob Roy

    Rob Roy (Deleted) gave props (3 May 2009):

    Well done, Joerg!! Just yesterday we were at a Toyota dealership and the salesman was relating how Sienna's end up as cabs in Cuba once they have 200k miles!!

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