Classic cars are very popular in the United States, but the US isn't
the only country where these cars are big business, and where people
love to collect them. Throughout Cuba, parts of Europe, and many other
areas of the world, people collect classic cars from their own countries
and from the United States, as well. One of the biggest export
locations for classic cars from the US was Cuba, until an embargo over
50 years ago made it illegal for anyone in the country to import cars
from America. Now that is about to be lifted, and more cars will come
into the country. For countries without as many restrictions on US
vehicles, collectors continue to enjoy their options and bring in more
How big is the hobby?
collecting is a very big hobby. In Cuba, a vast number of taxis and
daily drivers are American vehicles from the 40s and 50s. There is a big
problem with many of these cars, though, in that they are not 100%
original anymore. The parts that were needed for these cars as they
began to break down were simply not available for many years. They
couldn't be imported, just like the cars themselves. Everything from
tail lights to transmissions have had to come from other sources, just
to cobble the cars together and keep them running.
The collecting (and in some cases driving) of classic cars, though, goes on, whether it's easy to get the parts or not. In Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world it's possible to get parts for classic US cars, but it's also difficult to get those parts at a fair price. Some aftermarket or re-manufactured parts are being used, because it's simply not possible to find the proper parts anymore. They just don't exist. Because the hobby is such a significant one for most of the people who participate in it, though, the lack of available, affordable parts doesn't stop them.
What type of cars do people collect?
People who are interested in US cars will collect almost anything they can get, but the cars from Ford and Chevy, and from the 40s and 50s, tend to be the most popular. As cars get into the 60s and 70s model years, they are not as popular with collectors. Some of the reason behind that could be just that they are not as old, or that there were so many of them made. Additionally, these somewhat newer cars don't have the same type of styling that the earlier cars did. That exotic looking styling, with the big fins and large grills, is what many collectors in other countries seek out when they want an American car as part of their collection.
Years ago, the United States was the leader in car manufacturing, and the country made many beautiful cars that were of interest to collectors in other parts of the world. One of the countries where these cars were popular (and still are) is Sweden. There are more restored 1950s classics in that country than there are in the US, and the Swedes really love their American cars. Nearly 5,000 classic cars are sent from America to Sweden every year, and the fervor that these cars have created shows no sign of slowing down.
Where do they get the US cars?
The collectors in places like Cuba and Sweden got their cars in the same place Americans get classic cars - from collectors in America. Of course, some of these cars also come from collectors in other countries who have purchased the cars from the US and are now willing to sell them. In the case of Cuba, American cars cannot be imported, but once that changes there will likely be an influx of US cars headed into the country for some time. For Sweden and other countries without the same kinds of import requirements, cars that have been in the US or that have gone to other countries are all available to be chosen from.
The cars can be bought from private collectors, or from auction houses. Shipping them to the new country is a big concern but can be done for the right price, and the collectors in these countries also have to be able to register and license the cars correctly in order to make sure the cars can legally be stored and/or used in that country. Insurance is also a consideration, with every country having its own requirements as to how foreign, classic cars must be insured. With so many ways to get US cars, though, the desire for them in other countries is not something that will be stopping anytime soon.