Cuban Cars and Culture: Vintage Velocity

Cuban Cars and Culture: Vintage Velocity

Led by Historian Dr. Andrés Espinoza Agurto 

February 19-24, 2024


In Cuba, cars are not just a means of transportation; they are an obsession, a point of pride, and serve as time capsules from a bygone era. The classic Fords and Chevrolets from the 1950s have been repaired countless times over many decades and are remarkably still on the road. Meticulously maintained and restored, these classic cars are the epitome of the Cuban spirit, resourcefulness, and the ability to turn utility into art. Meet with these mechanical “artists” to discuss and observe the restoration process, and to experience these automotive masterpieces.


  • Discuss the car restoration and upkeep process at the Nostalgicar Workshop
  • Meet with members of the Amigos de Fangio Classic Car Club, a non-profit association that brings together classic car and motorcycle enthusiasts
  • Meet with entrepreneurs and urban planners for panel discussions about Havana’s past, present, and future
  • Enjoy a reception in a home with a private collection of classic cars and happy hour with Cuban Harlistas
  • Experience a HiSTORY-telling hour with your Historian to learn about their favorite tale related to the places you
    are visiting

Trip Historian

Dr. Andrés Espinoza Agurto

A native of Chile, Dr. Andrés Espinoza Agurto has has studied Cuban music and culture for many years and will be delighted to share his insights on this vibrant island nation. He studied Afro-Cuban percussion at the
Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) in La Habana, Cuba, graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music, receiving a BM in Jazz Composition, and holds an MA in Jazz studies and Ethnomusicology from the University of York (England). He received his PhD in Ethnomusicology from Boston University in 2014. He has performed and taught around the world, and has
been a faculty member at Various universities in the United States. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at Florida Atlantic University.

His book Salsa Consciente: Politics, Poetics, and Latinidad in the Meta-Barrio, published in 2021 by Michigan State University press, analyzes the impact of Salsa music as a forging element of social and political identity within Latino and Latin American communities. He is also the composer, musical director, and percussionist of the Andres Espinoza World Jazz Ensemble, the Andres Espinoza Octet, and the Latin fusion sextet Los Songos Jalapeños. He is also a consecrated drummer in the lineage of Añá Ilu Kan and is currently conducting his research on the lineage, performance practice, and aesthetics of Afro- Cuban batá drummers and drumming. His knowledge of Cuba combined with on-site car experts and a local guide, will provide a well-rounded introduction to this island nation.


After arriving on individual flights into Jose Marti International Airport, check in to your privately-run boutique hotel in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. Meet your historian and fellow travelers over a light lunch, and welcome presentation. Then turn back the clock as you take in the sights and sounds of Havana during a guided driving tour in a fleet of classic American cars. Your final stop is El Cocinero, a rooftop paladar (privately-owned restaurant) known for its excellent cuisine and great music.

Included meals: Light Lunch, Dinner

Spend the morning with an urban planner who will provide insight into housing, infrastructure, investment, and restoration programs in Havana as well as some fascinating history into what pre-revolution Havana looked like when it was the favorite gathering place for the mafia. Stroll the Havana seawall, which was the circuit of the Grand Prix of Cuba 1957-58, in convertibles, stopping at key landmarks from the Gran Prix. Enjoy lunch at a popular paladar before exploring Havana’s beautiful old city. Interact with families and private vendors, even entering family homes and side streets to get an intimate look at socio-economic issues and daily Cuban life and visiting Old Havana’s beautiful plazas and parks. Visit the Automobile Museum, home to dozens of amazingly restored American Classic Automobiles, including Ernest Hemingway’s 1955 Chrysler which is undergoing restoration. Gather for a reception at the home of world-renowned artist Esterio Segura, who boasts a diverse collection of classic automobiles from the 1950s. Enjoy Esterio’s amazing art collection, classical music from a young university quartet, and some beautiful cars. Dine at Paladar Atelier. This restaurant is equally known for its atmosphere and classic Cuban cuisine.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Visit the NostalgiCar Workshop and discuss the process of restoration and upkeep of classic cars especially with limited resources. Then tour La Finca Vigía. Formerly the home of Ernest Hemingway, it still houses his expansive collection of books and his boat, El Pilar. Your guide will show you around and share some of the bizarre and captivating tales from Hemingway’s many years in Cuba. Dine at Grados, a private restaurant, defender of the traditional Cuban cuisine, and member of the slow food movement. Each dish has a history which is thoughtfully laid out by chef Raulito Bazuk. Visit the Habana Compas dance studio for a demonstration and discussion with instructors and students. Liliet Rivera, protege of the renowned List Alfonso Dance Company, established Habana Compas in 2004 to reclaim and preserve Cuba’s dance heritage from Spain and Africa and the company has quickly developed into an institution within Cuba, running a free school for youth in the afternoons. Enjoy Happy Hour with the Cuban Harlistas, a Harley-Davidson loving group in Havana. This diverse group includes mechanics, riders, and retirees. Dine at your leisure at any number of Havana’s best paladares.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Begin your morning with a roundtable discussion with Cuban entrepreneurs about their businesses and Cuba’s slow opening to the private sector. You will have the opportunity to hear individual stories and ask questions. On a behind-the-scenes art tour, visit the homes and studios of independent Cuban artists. Have a light lunch at Hip Havana Art Gallery. Meet with members of the Amigos de Fangio Classic Car Club, named for one of the most renowned drivers in Formula One racing history for additional one-on-one discussions. Learn about the history of the Grand Prix in Cuba. Finally, gather for a private tasting and education with a cigar specialist who will explain the cultural staple’s history and importance to Cuban culture. The evening is yours at leisure to experience Havana’s paladares and music scene.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Spend the morning with classic car owners and enthusiasts culminating in a rally, exhibition, and awards ceremony. Enjoy lunch along the coast at Marea, a beautiful restaurant and lounge on the Havana coastline that offers a diving board into the beautiful sea and a dock out to the crystal-clear water. Visit the shops of Cuban artists and entrepreneurs and discuss their work. Celebrate your travels with a farewell dinner at Fabrica de Arte Cubano. The brainchild of Afro-Cuban musician X-Alfonso, this is one of Havana’s finest cultural projects, an intellectual and artistic nexus that draws Cuban and international visitors. Explore the multi-media gallery spaces and catch a live performance.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Transfer to airport for individual flights to US.

Included Meal: Breakfast 


Available Dates & Pricing

February 19-24, 2024

$ 4,995
  • $500 deposit required
  • All accommodations for the duration of the tour
  • Meals, sightseeing, and visits as noted in the itinerary
  • Expertise of a tour manager and local guides throughout the tour
  • All gratuities for on-tour guides, drivers, hotel and restaurant staff as part of the group program
  • All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted
  • One group airport transfer in Havana
  • Quietvox listening devices to facilitate audibility and social distancing on tour
  • The assistance of an ATA professional travel team to assist with pre-trip questions, travel
    arrangements, including flights,  and other services
  • Comprehensive pre-departure mailings and materials with information about the destination
    and what to expect on tour, including a suggested reading list
  • Emergency evacuation insurance

Special Note: The U.S. Government permits legal travel to Cuba under 12 different categories. This trip is authorized under the category referred to as “People-to-People.” Excessive free time and recreational activities are not permitted, and this itinerary reflects the requirement of a full-time schedule of meaningful interactions with Cubans.


Claxon Boutique Hotel | (5 nights)

Ideally located in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, this 9-room privately-owned upscale boutique hotel opened in 2022. Each room is named for a classic American car and tastefully appointed with classic car touches throughout the property. The mansion maintains classic elements like its original tile and high ceilings, while adding modern features such as flat screen TVs and rain showers. An onsite restaurant is available for all-day dining at one of the outdoor areas, an indoor restaurant, or room service, and a rooftop bar is open evenings and boasts craft cocktails and live music.

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