Cuba’s famous old cars can find their way on the island.

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Cuba’s famous old cars can find their way on the island.

Everyone in Cuba may have American cars for years longer than anywhere else in the world. This is unnecessary, not optional. As relations between the United States and Cuba resume, parts of these cars should be more readily available.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

On the streets of Cuba, you’ll see many classic American cars – think ford Fairnes, Studebakers, Chevrolet Bel Airs, etc. – that are unnecessary, not optional. But as NPR’s Sonari Glinton reports, improving relations between the United States and Cuba could lead to more new models.

SONARI GLINTON, wired: this comparison helps me understand the Cuban car market that we all need to understand. The average age of cars on American roads is 11.4, but because of the Cuban embargo, it is more like 60 or even 65.

BILL VISNIC: you have some Galapagos in the car market. Nothing has happened in 50 years.

Greenton: bill venick and edmunds.com say that like the Galapagos, animals evolved in isolation like the Cuban car market. Visnic said the Cuban car market was about to develop and there was a lot to do.

VISNIC: everything is a problem, so you have to build imports, distribution, sales, all of that from scratch.

Greenton: alex gutierrez and kelly’s blue book says it’s too early for car enthusiasts or executives to start laughing at the potential of the Cuban car market.

ALEC GUTIERREZ: as an auto industry professional, I have more real problems for Cuba than I have today.

Greenton: he has a lot of problems.

GUTIERREZ: what do car crowds look like outside? How are the cars doing? What are the needs of ordinary Cuban families? What is the market potential for Cuba with just 11 million people? Are they interested in new cars? Can they afford a new car? Is this the used-car market?

Greenton: ok. This is gutierrez’s three-minute problem of 18 seconds. Now, the soviets, the Chinese, have offered Cuba some new cars. ‘the chances of the new car market opening up in the next few years are almost nil,’ Mr. Laridomick said.

Larry Dominic: because there’s no new car infrastructure, right? There are no new car dealers. No maintenance. There are few gas stations. So I think it will take years for infrastructure to support a fairly strong market. But, of course, good used car exports are a good opportunity if the market is open.

KARL BRAUER: yes, cubans will have a bigger market for used cars because they’re cheaper, and of course there’s a market for replacement parts.

Greenton: kelly brauer and kelly’s blue book says Cuba may need to replace the parts first. Cuban mechanics and owners have been using engineering techniques to make their own parts. Carl brauer is also an old car. He said the whole island of used cars might be a boon to collectors, but

Brewer: the drawback is it’s going to be a good car. It will not be of any museum quality. As they say, the quality of the driver is no worse than that of the driver, because in the last few decades, it has to be a real car.

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