Buying a car in Cuba and what not to do…(like buy one..)

First off, forget buying one of those old American cars. There are so many foreigners with “belief of real ownership” stamped into their neurons that are taken for a ride (pardon the pun) by owners of these vehicles. The adage “tell me what you want to know and I´ll tell you it’s what you want to hear” springs to mind when talking with these car sellers. Basically you cannot ever own one of these cars, even if the owner proclaims the opposite it will always be in his name and, he may even get that changed if the authorities cotton onto the sale of his prized 1950´s Belair… Yes, cars sold illegally to foreigners are confiscated and often times simply given to another person more able to respect the local status quo. I´ve seen it happen over and over again… This is the general brief: Belair is purchased for cash, treated to a $1500 re-spray, parts brought from the US, fantastic stereo fitted, wide wheels brought as hand luggage and…off to Playa Del Este the packed car go’s one bright morning. At a police check point the foreign driver is stopped and paperwork is requested, the car is taken and all attempts to get it back are thwarted. It’s sent to “Villa Blanca y Agua Dulce” (think that’s how its spelled).. plates removed and its gone. Sometimes the real owner can get it back but, alas, it’s rare. You see they say that these cars have “traspaso” (transfer documents) as they are from a time of prerevolutionary days and thus can be transferred and, while this is correct, they don´t mean to you! There are some cars that are on the 5th foreign owners in so many years because the owner is well connected one ponders? So, no you cannot buy an old American car, not even if your girlfriend’s innocent looking brother and all her family say you can! Plus, even if you do not get it confiscated, just as the new Belair badges arrive to finish off your pride and joy your girlfriend will leave you and you´ll find out that the guy you thought was her brother is actually her other boyfriend as they drive off together. Beware…

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