When you think of modified cars around the world, you might think of a drift car in the mountain roads of Japan. Or you might think of a V8 muscle car blasting down the quarter mile in the USA. A jacked-up four-wheel drive or ute in the outback of Australia. But when it comes to the ratio of modified to stock cars and the sheer resourcefulness and ingenuity of car owners and their mechanics, the number one place in the world for modified cars is Cuba. [MUSIC] MIGHTY CAR MODS CUBA Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean. 200km east of Mexico 150km south of the United States, and is home to around 11 million people. We are in Havana, the capital city, which features a unique and thriving car culture, which was used as an iconic location in ‘Fast and Furious 8’ So we’ve decided to come here to delve deeper into the unique car scene. We’re going to drive some crazy cars, plus meet the people who own them and keep them on the roads. From backyard workshops to Jungle mechanics, Cuba does cars, like nowhere else on the planet. Cuba’s car culture is a fascinating blend of crazy 1950’s American excess, and 1970’s Soviet Utalitarianism. Colored by the local’s can do attitude, to keep their aging cars on the road. Thanks to Cuba’s proximity to Florida, it became a holiday destination for wealthy Americans in the 1940’s and 50’s. With fleets of American land barges cruising the streets. It wasn’t long before a young chap, called Fidel Castro, rose up and brought the government down with a revolution. Taking over control, from the 1st of January 1959. This meant the supply of American cars and parts dried up overnight, due to Castro’s communist government and links to the U.S.S.R. With America’s export ban in place Cuba turned to their Soviet friends for vehicles, Buying Ladas, Polish Fiats, and even the odd GAZ or Zil luxury car. The trade restrictions meant Cubans couldn’t bring in parts if something on their car broke, so they became experts at keeping their old cars going by any means necessary. This has lead them to become probably the most resourceful modifiers of cars on the planet. Due to the trade embargo, Cubans had no access to the huge U.S. classic car aftermarket parts industry. So many of the American classics have been refitted with cheap Kia and Hyundai diesel engines. It’s also not uncommon to find cars being run by tractor engines or even stationary pump engines that have been converted to run a car. Cubans are especially proud of their cars, because they’re a symbol of hard work, and the vehicles become family heirlooms. It’s not uncommon for families to pass down cars over decades and decades, with various different engine configurations and modifications keeping the car on the road. So let’s hit the road, drive some cars and find out how against the odds these resourceful car enthusiasts keep rolling in Cuba. But firstly. How are we going to get around? Well we’ve got our hands on this. This is a 1955 Chevrolet 150 Sedan. This is the up-spec Bel-Air, and back in the 50’s, this could cost up to $2750 depending on which of the nine body styles you chose, and how you customized it. There were hundreds and hundreds of options on offer. While you could get a straight-six engine, the big news in ’55 was a brand new turbo fire 4.3L V8, known as the small block. Still in production today, some people say, over one hundred million small block V8’s have been made since 1955. A unique feature of the ’55 model year engine, was that oil filters were an optional accessory. But none of this applies to our particular car, Because powering us on this trip, is none other than a Toyota Diesel truck engine from Japan It can be tricky to navigate your way around the unique automotive culture in Cuba,

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Each year we like to pack our bags, and cameras, and travel somewhere in the world to get an understanding of different car cultures and scenes.

    For this special episode, we head to the other side of the planet to check out some of the incredible cars in Cuba. In this documentary, we meet the locals, work with some mechanics, and of course drive some crazy cars.

    It certainly was an incredible experience, and gives you a totally different understanding of what it means to modify cars.

    This has been a huge project for us, so we hope you enjoy The Cars of Cuba!

  2. I rode a pushie around Cuba for 3 weeks and totally loved the place. People are great, so polite and easygoing. You'd be pedalling along out of town and look over your shoulder to see a queue of cars, buses, trucks waiting politely to overtake. No shoving, no road rage. Fantastic place.

  3. You can have my Fiat for free Moog. It's a 2013 500 sport. It's horrible. Replaced all 4 wheel bearings, ac condenser, ABS and ESC sensors, upper strut tower bearings, rear shocks, alternator and now my starter motor died. Less than 5 years old and I have had to do all this work on it already.

  4. I see a solution for VWoA's TDI problem in Cuba. Load up all the TDIs in Detroit Silverdome parking lot and Wilmington and ship them to Havana. With the Cuban's skills, the TDIs would live forever. Dieselgate resolved.Win win.

  5. I live in the eastern part Germany and what i think is very interesting is you can get like a Lada 1500 here as well because in the Gdr they were imported like in havana.

  6. Absolutely pathetic that these people prefer to admire these old vehicles than consider that a communist dictatorship is the reason why these vehicles still survive.

  7. im surprised this doesnt have more views honestly. when i originally watched fast 8, i was thinking there was going to be more about cuba. not just 5 minutes. the fact that you guys went there to explore deeper into their car culture with a couple videos means alot.

  8. Great CASANARA B&B in Santiago de Cuba! Great hosts, delicious food, super clean place… authentic Cubans. Check https:// WWW.CASANARA.COM. Check also Airbnb for CASANARA B&B Comfort & charming ambience! Read the reviews from guest…you will love it. Email: [email protected]

  9. I don't understand why they just don't learn how to build their own motors, or cars for that matter. Something doesn't seem right here.

  10. I live in socal, I am looking for a 126p or 126 personal4. I am going to import one or buy an imported one, not sure yet

  11. I am Cuban and i am very proud of my people, i hope good change comes to my Island some day soon, we are the best mechanics in the world we don't have an autopart's store if we need it we would just make it and we would make our shitbox work by any neans, thank you guys for this great video brought tears to my eyes haven't been back to my country in 18 years since i was 11 years old i am 29 now much love keep up the good work.❤✌

  12. Cubas ability to keep these machines up and running is breath taking. Brings a tear to my eye. Very Appalachian of them.

  13. Wow – I find Cuba very interesting. The engineering alone is fascinating. Now if only the U.S. would get it's head out of it's ass and allow imports from the U.S. and unrestricted travel.

  14. The dream of every Cuban man Chevy 55. 56 or 57 or Ford 55 & 56. 🚘🚙⛽ El sueño de todo hombre cubano amante a los autos Chevy 55. 56 y 57. Ford 55 y 56. Con tope en la lista el 55 Chevy bell Air or 56 Grand Victoria.Saludos desde Jacksonville florida. 👍👍👍👍👍

  15. This is the best episode ever. My step dad is Cuban and he has told me so many stories about the cars. He has a 56 Buick with a Russian engine. Cool to see this at least on here for myself. Truly incredible.

  16. I will forever respect the Cuban car scene and my rusting 2006 Eclipse G4 GS. Have a great/safe day everyone.

  17. I actually do manage to keep my 57 Bel air running just fine as well, and I live in the United States.

  18. I love the Frankenstein cars
    It's like my Taurus with a Mercury mountego hood and fender and ford five hundred bumper

  19. Did you guys know the Fiat polski was sold in Australia in the early 1990's as a Nikki ? In Poland this car still has a cult following, although not often seen on the streets of poland .The FSO Polonez is still seem from time to time.

  20. Im looking for an 1950-1970 muscle Car/ Oldtimer in Germany and they are fking expensive and There everyone Drives one

  21. I've been to Cuba twice this year, including time in Havana— never once saw a Bel Air as clean as the one you're driving around here. New cars in Cuba are almost all government-owned— German, French, or Chinese. It's a great trip for a car lover.

  22. ISAIAH 55:4-6 . I am the last of Zion YACOB Yisrael persecuted and gangstalked.
    13th Ammendment I still enslaved in America

  23. Hey look, passion, something america cough cough tesla car company, is lacking, because in america half to be so fing picky and throw out perfectly good cars, cubans dont give a danm how it looks or drives, if it has wheels and an engine that runs, there happy.

  24. 00:02 55 Plymouth pink convertible , car to the left of the guys

    29:44 55 Plymouth green ( might be Dodge, the door handles don't look like a Plymouth ) Green 4 door car at stop light

    29:48 55 Plymouth green ( might be Dodge, the door handles don't look like a Plymouth ) Green 4 door car driving by

  25. G'day fellahs. I've been waiting for someone to do a vid about the Cuban cars. I used to tell people about it all the time and they would go EH? So now I can point them at this. Good stuff.

  26. I had a Lada Riva 1505, it was given to me by my father min law. At the time i was a skint father of 3 young brats so i was happy for it. Looking back however….. I got it for free…….and I was still ripped off.

  27. Just came back from cuba and I can say that the backyard mechanics there are near engineering levels, if the engine going in doesnt fit then they modify the front end to work in their favor, I saw a 50s Ford coupe with a turbo diesel engine from a Mercedes, a powering steering rack and pinion set up from a toyota truck and a brake and clutch system from a Lada all while looking like a factory finish. Absolutely amazing work

  28. I keep checking jobseek and you bastards dont seem to advertise on there. So how do i like get a job with yous and stuff

  29. "in Cuba they use their horns to communicate, there is no anger or aggression." I live in Miami where its filled with Cubans and it is the complete opposite 😂😂😂

  30. Excellent video guys. I used to live there and actually I think that I know one of the drivers of that old 1500. When I was in Cuba I had a beautiful lada 2105. Good memories brought back.

  31. I had 1956 Chevrolet bel air and Moskvitch 1983, the moskvitch was piece of shit , the Chevrolet was great car my Father bought the car in 1956 brand new …. but was challenged find part after the revolution , gasoline, brakes , and more things , i leaved cuba in 1998 and sold the cars , I never went back .

  32. When you see FF8 in cinema: "BS, the cars aren't that bad"
    When Cubans see FF8 in cinema: "BS our car don't work as if they are off assembly line, we build them using whatever we can find

    When I see this: "holy fuck, why isn't Australia stealing Cubans to use as mechanics and engineers, they can make anything work with anything!"

  33. Привет из РФ!!!
    Hello friends! Very cool projects for you! I watch your videos with pleasure! I am from Russia and my first car also had a VAZ 2103! A terrible car, but made a car out of it that can make a bernaut))))) but invested about $ 10,000 in tuning ((((then moved to Japanese)))

  34. Well… that's my story… my life… my dad owned a 1958 Oldsmobile 88 Super 88. It was powered by a Perkins diesel engine, had a Mitsubishi truck transmission and differential. The engine had parts from Mercedes, and the starter was from a Hyundai. We fully restored it before moving to US in 2010. After that, the car sas kept inside the garage and once I turned 16 and obtained my permit here in Fl, I drove it… 6 speed… gosh, that was a unique thing… btw the car was pearl brown. About a year ago we sold the car for 26,000 USD, and watching this video reminds me of that unique experience… my dad had that car when I was borned, and ofc it was all I seen and knew about. I'm a diesel car/truck lover, I am currently 19 and own an MK6 Jetta Wagon diesel(its fully deleted, Cuban spirit ☺). My dream truck is an Inline 6 Cummins Ram.

    (My dad once topped out our old car at 115mph)

  35. Man, these people would keep busy trying to keep my 1988 Buick Reatta going with no spare parts. The car is crammed full of first generation computer technology, fuel injection system, and ABS brake system. It is hard enough to keep it running with access to parts and mechanics on just about every corner. Hell, Buick themselves don’t even wanna touch it that is how complex it is!

  36. Hopefully this video answers the questions of those "Can I swap this engine into this car?" guys in automotive message boards all over. Yes you can.

  37. All The apprenticeships should have a program that the panel.beaters ! Motor.macs! All spend 1.2 months in Cuba they wouldn't be green for very long !!! It would be great for all!!!!!????

  38. "Like we do in the Western World"? But Cuba is in the Western Hemisphere and Australia is in the Eastern Hemisphere.

  39. This is one of the best mcm episodes. My buddy who is married to a Cuban born woman went there this year. He said most if the cars there dont have the factory engine or even the same make of engine. Also like mentioned in the video theres tons of tractor engines in cars and even small single cylinder engine like from a lawn tractor or go cart.

  40. It's same in Asian countries specially Pakistan were we keep cars running from back from 1960s you can get alot of models there such as toyota corollas from 70s, 80s, 90s till now. And nissans models such as dartun, sunny, and more. Also you can get classic mercedes. They build them in backyard grages and at home also getting parts from different cars and if they're not availble or can't get them they will make them by hand with bare items used. And that's what I call talent as I live in uk I've seen new cars getting scraped and are from 90s and early 2000s are being dispearing from uk roads I feel sad. Because I like old cars and the why scrap and remake new cars out if them. This causes more environment impact then keeping older cars and making them go for years I mean 15 20 year old car isn't old for me.

  41. If working with strangers on a car isn't the second universal language next to maths, then I don't know what is. This was fuccing beautiful guys.

  42. At 8:55 id bet a million dollars they had to cut it there and bump start the car again because he tried to take off in second, and clearly that resulted in a stall.

    Why is this dude doing car videos? He seems like the kind of guy who got a bmw from his parents to take to college and maybe learned stick in a buddies z3 or z4 at some point. Otherwise in no way does he strike me as a car guy.

    Enlighten me

  43. Woah woah woah, this is “the beautiful part of Cuba? Lol the fact that they have been oppressed for generations and can’t afford new cars? Can’t even get them if they want them.

    Yay socialism 🤦🏻‍♂️

  44. They are cool people but dont feel bad they dont have aftermarket parts they have a trade embargo because backed socialism against democracy….

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