The only one of its kind in Cuba, the National Transport Museum is located 25 kilometers from the city of Santiago de Cuba in the Gran Parque Baconao. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this 800 sq. km. (309 sq. mile) park boasts over 1,800 endemic species of flora, many types of endangered bats and spiders and a Prehistoric Park that has over 200 life-sized concrete dinosaurs.
The National Transport Museum, which includes both an outdoor Car Museum as well as an adjacent Miniature Car Museum, provides an overview of the history of transport from the invention of the wheel to the latest electronic technology on internal combustion engines.
Arriving at the Car Museum is like time travel. Among the forty-four cars on display are a 1912 Model-T Ford, a 1956 Ford Coupe Thunderbird that belonged to Cuban vedette Rosita Fornés, and a 1958 Series 62 Cadillac that was owned by emblematic Cuban singer Benny Moré.
Likewise, one can see the Chevrolet used by Raúl Castro on July 26, 1953 when he stormed the Palace of Justice. There is also the first mini-car that was made in the history of the automobile.
The museum, where galvanized tin roofs protect the cars which are easily seen from the pathway, has three striking limousines which are elegant, luxurious and full of comfort: a 1986 model Molony Cadillac, a 1987 Lincoln and a 1996 modern Volvo. All were sent to Cuba during the visits of important personalities from the world of the arts, sports and politics, such as French actor Alain Delon, U.S. actor Jack Nicholson, British model Naomi Campbell, the Prince of the Order of Malta, and others.
The museum is an unforgettable opportunity to see replicas of vehicles used by universal paladins such as Vladimir Ilich Lenin as well as lavish cars – advanced for their time – which were driven by celebrities such as Japanese Emperor Hirohito, passionate about a 1938 Mercedes Benz. There is also the 1941 Mercedes Benz that belonged to Adolf Hitler, the 1939 Packard owned by Stalin and the 1912 Ford Model-T driven in several of his films by that proverbial king of humor, Charles Chaplin.
Organized since 1997, the RALLY 200 miles, with its Classic and Antique Automobiles Club, has members who make tours of the city, and who carry out other activities related to motoring. The museum is included in package tours of the Baconao area and is a meeting place for national and foreign tourists.
Also unusual is that every visitor who enters does not leave without signing a guest book in which s/he may also give expression to a phrase followed by the name.
As for the Miniature Car Museum next door, here you’ll find some 2,700 tiny toy cars and other vehicles, some of which are only two centimeters in size, from different historical periods. Most were built and donated to the museum by Fermín Fernández Hurtado, a Spanish Communist who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War and who donated his collection to Cuba in 1985.
Text: Naryara García Costa
Address: La Punta, Km 8½.
Telephone: (53 22) 39197
Hours: Monday to Sunday 8am to 5pm