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alberchico
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Question About Cuba's Classic Cars ....

Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:26 pm

I have been thinking, why didn't Castro simply order a ton of Soviet autos for his people instead of haing them drive around in old american cars for so many years. If Castro deeply hated the U.S. then the sight of all of Cuba's citizens depending on U.S autos for so many years must have been embarrasing for the Cuban govt. Now since the Soviet auto industry was heavily subsidized, and all the cars would have been dirt cheap, not counting the massive aid that Cuba recieved fron the USSR, why didn't they just replace all the classic american autos with russian models ???



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L410Turbolet
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RE: Question About Cuba's Classic Cars ....

Fri Aug 01, 2008 1:18 am



Quoting Alberchico (Thread starter):
Now since the Soviet auto industry was heavily subsidized, and all the cars would have been dirt cheap, not counting the massive aid that Cuba recieved fron the USSR, why didn't they just replace all the classic american autos with russian models ???

Becuase in socialism and the "wonders" the planned economy brings you simply can't go and buy stuff. It's a system of chronic shortage... consumer goods in particular (assuming you are able to facilitate at least the basics so your people are not dying from famine in the first place)... with worthless, non-convertible currency which prevents the government importing things from abroad.
I still remember my parents spending endless hours in lines for all kinds of stuff just to end up shopping for generic things such as "TV" or a "fridge". A given shop was allocated let's say 10 fridges a month and you either bought what was available or simply bought nothing. Why didn't they import the stuff from abroad? Simply because of the lack of hard currency.
So indeed it must have been embarrassing for Castro to see people drive around in US-made cars (similar to the embarrassment of 'almigthy' Red Army relying on Dodges and Jeeps during the WWII) but that was moreless the only viable option, importing them from somewhere (USSR) where they were not able to supply domestic market and suffered from huge lack of them in the first place simply was not an option.
That's the point of the scene in movie Good Bye Lenin! when the family, once the Berlin Wall fells and the whole country is flooded with West German goods, they all of a sudden get a letter that they can collect their Trabant (after years and years of waiting as was the case).
I guess you fully get it and appreciate it only after experiencing it yourself .
 
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alberchico
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RE: Question About Cuba's Classic Cars ....

Fri Aug 01, 2008 2:51 am

Excellent post L410...

In the Soviet days they would sell many civil and military aircraft abroad to fellow communist nations or Comecom members. Now I remember reading that in the case of some military hardware they has 2 assembly lines, one for domestic the other for export. Do you know if the Soviets exported cars within Eastern Europe? To coutries like Poland or Ukraine or Albania. Why couldn't the Soviets export cars to their client states ???

I know that the Lada Niva was very popular in western europe for its off -roading qualities.
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L410Turbolet
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RE: Question About Cuba's Classic Cars ....

Fri Aug 01, 2008 7:51 am



Quoting Alberchico (Reply 2):
Do you know if the Soviets exported cars within Eastern Europe? To coutries like Poland or Ukraine or Albania.

They did. And I believe they sold them for this virtual currency called Convertible Ruble which was a currency used for trading within the Comecon, because the regular money was worthless. The Fiat-based Lada was the best and most powerful car available to "mortals" in CEE Europe. (Black) Volhas were for the taxis and secret police. I'm not sure if they were even sold to regular public.
There was also a special chain of shops for the priviledged few and their henchmen. These shops were supplied with imported goods, electronics and cars included (Renaults and Peugeots were often the case) where you did not pay with money but special vouchers. There was a huge black market with these vouchers because that was moreless the only legal way (once you had them nobody checked where you got them) to buy stuff like jeans, color TVs, LEGOs etc. The choice was extremely limited by today's standards but it was still a cornucopia compared with what was available to the ordinary, non-priviledged pubic. It still exists in a similar form in today's Cuba and most likely North Korea as well.
It was also arranged that no other Comecon country makes better car than Russians. That's why Skoda degenerated from its pre-WW2 fame into the misery of 1970s-1980s models and E. Germany despite its tradition in engineering could not roll out anything better than Wartburg and Trabant.
The Romanians were trying to follow the example of Yugoslavia and Ceausescu tried to be somewhat independent from Kremlin in many aspects (such not participating in invasions) economic notwithstanding so they bought license to manufacture Renault 8 and Renault 12 as Dacia 1100 and 1300 as well as the Oltcit a car based on the Citroen Visa aka "Ceausescu's Revenge" as the car was nicknamed by the public. Another example is the RomBAC 1-11 jet.

Quoting Alberchico (Reply 2):
Why couldn't the Soviets export cars to their client states ???

They could and they would although it was most likely not a priority since they were dealing with almost insaturable domestic market and the incentive of exporting and selling the cars to some desperate souls in the West for hard currency. There was such huge demand given the underproduction of everything (except for military hardware), especially consumer goods that they sold everything anyway no matter how bad the quality was and since not being profit-driven there was no incentive to make more than it was planned 5 years in advance and more often than not they barely managed to deliver even that.

Quoting Alberchico (Reply 2):
I know that the Lada Niva was very popular in western europe for its off -roading qualities.

See above.
 
ThePRGuy
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RE: Question About Cuba's Classic Cars ....

Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:30 am

To be fair, most of the fantastic old american motors are now held together with Russian parts and russian diesel motors.

Most of the old ones when I was there were emitting nasty diesel fumes that is for sure.

I'm sure the original engines died long ago!
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