'The Jurassic Park for cars'
When Fidel Castro came into power in 1959, he placed a ban on foreign vehicle imports, making it nearly impossible to buy a brand-new, foreign-made car. As you navigate the roads of Havana, you'll find a rolling museum of classic '50s American automobiles. Vibrant paint-jobs and those iconic space-age tail fins are seen at almost every turn - each booming reggaetón from aftermarket speaker systems.
Dutch photograper & cinematographer Stijn Hoekstra spent 3 weeks in Cuba capturing its cinematic land & cityscapes, but what particularly caught our eye was his photoset on these beautiful classic cars. We at Tens maintain a love for all things retro, and this photoset is simply bathed in nostalgic warmth.
American cars were previously considered something of a burden; gas guzzlers whose parts were impossible to replace thanks to the US economic embargo, which makes most commercial transactions with the island illegal, and has effectively limited ties between the US and communist-run Cuba for much of the last half-century.
Some of the smoke-belching monsters had so many adapted Chinese and Russian parts inside that Cubans nicknamed them "Frankensteins." They were rusty beasts that almost no one thought about painting or fixing up. Few people could afford to do much else but keep them running.
But as tourism to the island increased and the island's government loosened restrictions on travel and car ownership for Cubans, more and more mint-condition beauties emerged from their long state of abandonment. Cuban entrepreneurs realized there was money to be made in offering vintage car tours and fanned out across the island in search of old cars to repair and fill with paying customers.
It's easy to fall in love these cars that possess a style and vision that automakers lost long ago. They act as a gleaming testament to Cuban ingenuity and perseverance rolling down Havana's potholed roads.
Check out more of Stijn's work via Instagram here, and his Website here.