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Cuban Vintage Cars remind U.S. Carmakers of Glory Days

In Cuba, vintage cars from the 1950s, built by Chevrolet and Ford still cruise the streets, a stark reminder to American car makers: they don’t build them like they used to. The Cubans have managed to keep their old cars running by using Russian spare parts and motors salvaged from other cars; in spite of the four-decade-old U.S. embargo against the island. Around 60,000 vintage American cars are still running in Cuba, where private car ownership is restricted and public transport is decaying.

The car owners claim their classics will run for a couple more years unlike modern cars which Cubans claim are made to last three or four years only.

Argelio Hernandez, owner of a blue 1952 Ford taxi says, “They are never going to have quality like this again. The companies are never going to build quality cars because they need the market."

And the market has imploded because of the financial crisis, U.S. automakers are barely surviving the slowdown in sales, General Motors and Chrysler LLC are seeking short-term loans from the government to stave off bankruptcy while Ford Motor Co. is calling for an emergency credit line.

In Cuba, the vintage American cars are still in decent shape, even if in some cases the chassis is the only surviving original part. Some cars are even older than their owners, handed down from father to son.

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