Fidel Castro's fleet of sleek Soviet-made limousines are getting a new life. The cabs were decommissioned and will now be repurposed as taxis in Havana. The new fleet will give tourists a quirky and lighthearted look at Cuba's history.
The limos were made by Russian manufacturers GAZ and ZIL in the 1960s and 70s, including the ZIL-111 convertible model, the first of its kind. That convertible was a personal gift from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to Castro. The cars were used for visiting dignitaries and by Castro himself, though his vehicle of choice was a military grade Jeep. Jimmy Carter rode in one of these limousines during his 2002 visit to Cuba.
While the limos aren't in great shape due to their age, tourists still love them as a novelty experience. Moises Suarez told the Associated Press, "When I tell [travelers] where the car came from, they sit in the seat back there and ... stretch their legs and say, 'I can't believe it!'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.