CubaPLUS Magazine

The "surprising" cars of yesteryear

By: Gabriela Santiesteban
Oct 29, 2021
The "surprising" cars of yesteryear

Little more than a decade after the automobile made its official debut in the world, in 1898 the rolling novelty arrived in Cuba, which was astonished at such ingenuity of technology, but which welcomed it with enthusiasm.

In January 1886, German Karl Friedrich Benz patented in Berlin a model with a gasoline internal combustion engine, vehicle that is considered the beginning of the automobile we know today.

In December 1898 passers-by who walked along the Paseo del Prado in Havana were surprised to see such a machine for the first time. It was the Parisienne brand car, which developed the then unprecedented speed of 10 kilometers per hour, imported by José Muñoz, representative of the agency that made them in France.

About six months later, the pharmacist Ernesto Sarrá brought a Rochet- Schneider from Lyon, with eight horsepower and a maximum speed of 30 km / h, and then the Cabañas y Carvajal cigarette factory imported another car to deliver goods.

According to historians, in 1901 11 of these machines circulated through the streets of Havana and in 1902 the first car arrived in Santiago de Cuba from the United States: a steam locomobile.

In 1903, the Automobile Club of Havana emerged and that same year organized the first race with five national participants, and in 1905 the first international race, with famous pilots of the time.

Although the pioneers came from the Old Continent, those of American origin prevailed in the country, not only because of its geographical proximity, but also because the northern power tested its novelties in the island.

Over a century later, over six decades old are still circulating in the Caribbean country, many of whose owners have met in clubs and held rallies, competitions, exhibitions and other actions.

The ingenuity of Cubans keeps these rolling relics working, because the logic of the passage of time makes it very difficult to replace parts, and it has also influenced their name quot;Almendronesquot;.

The popular nickname with which they are known, by nationals and many foreigners, due to the shape, similar to an almond, of various American models from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The national cinematography has appealed to them for their period films and even the eighth part of the Hollywood saga Fast and Furious, filmed in Havana, was enriched with these unique cars.

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