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Congratulations, Cubans! Now You Can Buy New Cars!

Ditch those old clunkers, and pick up one of the recommendations in this article.

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  • Cuba Cars-buick old
    Not that you haven't done an admirable job keeping those old cars going.
  • 1963-Chevrolet-Corvette-Stingray-Wallpaper
    Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
    There may be a few first-generation Corvettes floating around Cuba to this day—it first appeared in 1953, so there was plenty of time for them to make their way to Havana. But the second-generation is where the Corvette really found its niche as North America's premiere sports car.You could buy it as a coupe for the first time—and what a coupe it was. (Seriously, try not to fall in love with that body, it's not healthy.) Power comes from a choice of Chevy small-block and big-block V8s, which we're guessing Cuban mechanics are pretty familiar with by now. And thanks to engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov's tireless work, the second-gen Corvette could turn pretty well too.<p><b>Time to own: Approximately 2,900—11,000 work hours</b>
  • Jaguar-Xke-3
    Jaguar E-Type
    The Jaguar E-Type, also known as the XK-E where we live in the United States, was introduced in March 1961—only 25 months after Fidel Castro assumed the office of Cuban prime minister. (So close!) If the E-Type had managed to come out before <i>la revolución</i>, it might have convinced Castro to carve out an exception for the occasional British sports car—or at least, the ones so gorgeous, they led Enzo Ferrari himself to declare them "the most beautiful car ever made." When Enzo says something that nice about a car he didn't build, you know it must be something special. We could go on and on about the inline-six and V12 engines, the independent rear suspension, or the car's racing successes, but let's face facts: none of that would matter if the E-Type was ugly.<p><b>Time to own: 850—5,300 work hours</b>
  • 1971_20Plymouth_20Hemi_20_Cuda_20Coupe_201970_20Dodge_20Challenger_20Trans_20Am_20Coupe_1_
    Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda/Dodge Challenger
    You guys missed the entire muscle car era? Well, then, a classic piece of American iron is absolutely a requirement. While there's plenty of choices we could plug in here, we're ultimately going with the E-body Plymouth Barracuda of 1970-1974. Specifically, the 1971 'Cuda, the only year of the aesthetically appealing quad-headlamp front end. The high-powered 'Cuda version offered a choice of 7.0 liter and 7.2 liter V8s; either one should prove sufficiently capable of humiliating old Bel Airs, Volgas, and even any SAMs you guys still have lying around from a stop. If you can't find a '71 'Cuda, however, the mechanically similar '70-'74 Challenger will do in a pinch.<p><b>Time to own: 1,945 —115,000 work hours</b>
  • Porsche-959-2
    Porsche 959
    The idea of a four-wheel-drive performance car probably seems pretty strange to you, Cuban friends, since the idea wasn't particularly popular back in 1959. It was pretty unfamiliar to the rest of the world until 1986, too—until the Porsche 959 came along and, with the help of four driven wheels and a 2.8 liter twin-turbo horizontally-opposed six-cylinder, proceeded to blow away pretty much every car on the planet. Its performance was so astounding, Porsche's own 911 Turbo didn't catch up for another 20 years. The 959 redefined sports car performance—and in the process, redefined the supercar as a monument to technology.<p><b>Time to own: 14,485—42,130 work hours</b>
  • ferrari testarossa
    Ferrari Testarossa
    Did any episodes of <i>Miami Vice</i> manage to bridge the 100 miles or so between South Florida and you guys? If so, you may remember this beauty, which turned out to be the only star of the show with any career longevity. The Testarossa became symbolic of the cocaine-and-Phil Collins-fueled excesses of the 1980s—unfortunate, because beneath those assumptions lies a damn exciting car. The original Testarossa made 380 horsepower from its flat 12-cylinder engine, but later (and less iconic) versions bumped this up to 428 and 440 horsepower. Just a quick note, though—at 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 meters) wide, it may be a little girthy for Old Havana.<p><b>Time to own: 2500—5000 work hours</b>
  • Honda Acura NSX 2004
    Acura NSX
    You probably know sports cars as frustrating machines that are nearly impossible to live with. That's because you've been living in the pre-NSX era for the last five decades. With the NSX, Honda set out to build a mid-engined sports car that could best Ferrari's mid-engined V8 models, while being as liveable as a family sedan. It was so good, in the time that Ferrari went through four different mid-engined V8 cars, the NSX's biggest changes were an additional two-tenths of a liter of displacement and an extra cog in the gearbox.<p><b>Time to own: 922 —3,222 work hours</b>
  • BMW_M3-E36_735_1024x768
    BMW M3 (E36 generation)
    The original BMW M3, known as the E30, handled with the grace of an expert <i>son</i> dancer, but its 2.3 liter inline-four made only 192 horsepower. The second-generation E36 model, however, kept the vast majority of its predecessor's handling abilities, but supplemented them with an inline-six that generated 240 horsepower in the U.S. and between 282 and 316 hp in other countries. While the original version was only available as a hardtop two-door, the E36 M3 came in coupe, convertible and sedan forms—and because it was sold in far greater numbers than its predecessor, you can buy an E36 for a lot less (very) hard-earned cash.<p><b>Time to own: 278—833 work hours</b>
  • subaru_25_1600
    Subaru Impreza 2.5RS
    Fresh off the boat, the 2.5RS might not seem particularly exciting compared to the rest of the list. It's a Japanese compact that only makes 165 horsepower stock—but that last word's the key. "Stock." Since the car arrived in 1998, enough performance parts and aftermarket add-ons have been made for the 2.5RS, if you dumped them all in a line between your house and Key West, you could literally walk to the U.S. But we'd recommend using them to turn this Subie into a road-going version of the rally cars Subaru used to dominate rally racing for years. Also, without the 2.5RS's popularity, we never would have received subsequent generations of WRX and STI Imprezas, and without them, the world of cheap speed would be much worse for wear.<p><b>Time to own: 222—417 work hours</b>
  • Ferrari_458_Italia
    Ferrari 458 Italia
    The 458 Italia is the consummate modern-day super sports car. No other vehicle melds technology and emotion so flawlessly. It goes like highy motivated stink, sticks like rubber cement, howls like an angry wolf, and looks like Cindy Crawford on the best day of her life. Every day spent with a 458 is a memorable one—even if it will take you 2,000 work days to afford one.<p><b>Time to own: 16,056—19,444 work hours</b>
  • CorvetteC6
    Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
    If the Stingray was the first of a new generation of performance-oriented Corvettes, the ZR1 is the pinnacle of all those decades of development. Just listen to the specs: 638 horsepower, 604 lb-ft of torque. 3,352 lb. (1,523.6 kg) curb weight. Carbon ceramic brakes. Magnetically adjustable suspension. 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds, 60-0 mph in 96 feet, 1.1 lateral g's, 205 mph top speed, and it laps the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 20 seconds. And it does all this with a traditional manual gearbox, rear-wheel-drive, and the same front-engined V8 layout Corvettes have been using since...well, since the last time you guys could buy one new.<p><b>Time to own: 6,128 work hours</b>
  • porsche_911_gt2_6
    Porsche 911 GT2 RS
    Porsche's established a reputation for regularly discovering new loopholes in the laws of physics, and no car of their better embodies this than the 911 GT2 RS. With a 620 horsepower engine mounted over the rear axle and all power going to the back wheels, this machine should be nearly impossible to drive—but it's not. You could drive it across a continent, so long as you're not on a first-name basis with your chiropractor. But the GT2 RS earns a spot on this list not for its drivability; it's here because it's one of the few sports cars these days that'll still bite you if you don't know how to handle it. Since the idea of "traction control" is still probably new to you, however, you should be fine. Just don't lift in the wet.<p><b>Time to own: 13,889—16,667 work hours</b>
  • cars nissan gt-r 2012 egoist out
    Nissan GT-R
    If the ZR1 and GT2 RS show what sort of magic car makers can perform on established sports car platforms, the GT-R demonstrates what a company can do when given a clean sheet of paper. Using a 530 horsepower twin-turbo V6, a dual-clutch transmission, all-wheel-drive and more computer power than the space shuttle (you know, that giant rocket that kept launching over your heads every few months), the GT-R hustles from 0-60 mph in less than three seconds. It's unapologetically futuristic in the way only a Japanese car could be.<p><b>Time to own: 5,000—5,389 work hours</b>

It’s been 52 years in the waiting, but as of last Saturday, Cubans once again have the ability to own their very own cars. Up until this point, only cars manufactured and brought to the country prior to Fidel Castro’s 1959 Communist revolution were available for purchase (with the exception of some Soviet-made iron for VIPs in with the government), leaving Cuba resembling the set of a low-budget Miami-based remake of Back To The Future.

The government’s automotive reforms are obviously a positive for all Cubans, but they’re especially great for Cuban car lovers, who’ve been forced to lust over the last half-century of automotive progress from afar. So we’ve put together a brief hit list of twelve cars we suggest Cuban enthusiasts should try and pick up before the die (or before Fidel does, but we’re pretty sure he’s immortal). We’ve also included an estimate of how long it’ll take the average Cuban to save up for each car, given that the typical resident of Cuba makes about $18 a month. (But hey, free health care!)


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