Cuban Boat Cars

The yearning for freedom and a better life is innate in some people, and many Cubans have risked their lives for a chance to get their feet on American soil, feet dry they stay, but if they are caught in the water they are shipped back to Cuba. Here is a look at some of the amazing car based boats that have been launched from our neighbor to the south.

The original attempt at reaching the United States via car was with the aid of a converted 1951 Chevy pickup truck in 2003. The truck's drive shaft was attached directly to a propeller, the truck would cruise along at around 7 knots (8 mph). 55-gallon oil drums were used for flotation. The dozen or so Cubans in the truck were caught just south of Key West after being sighted by a U.S. Customs aircraft.

In 2004, three of the original people caught on the truck were trying again, this time in a more sophisticated vessel. With a passenger complement of eleven, was crafted from a 1959 Buick: the interior was welded to be watertight, the prow of a boat was attached to the front of the car. The most ingenious part of their plan was that the car still would drive. The plan was to reach landfall in Florida, discard the boat parts, and drive to a relative's home in Lake Worth, FL.

 Not to be outdone, another of the original attempt, took another shot at U.S. landfall in 2005. Built from a converted 1949 Mercury station wagon, it carried 13 people and was stopped at the usual area just off Key West. The Mercury was apparently originally a taxi.

Source: Floating Cubans 


  1. If you ask me if people are going to risk that much, and are skilled enough to build those vessels out of those vehicles,you'd want people like that in your country, with that much drive; ) they'll do well! I hope they make it back.

  2. One of the major car mags had an article a year or two ago maybe more covering one of the mechanics who built the truck boat. Eventually he and his family did reach the US and achieve legal residency. They made it by a land route through Mexico. At the time of the article the mechanic worked for a Miami Chevy dealer. The dealer commissioned him to build a replica of the truck boat that was under construction at the time. I agree with anon and really admire these mechanics. Henry J