The origins of the Cuban word: Fotingo

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The origins of the Cuban word: Fotingo

The word “fotingo” is popularly used in Cuba to refer to old vehicles or collectibles, although it is also often used in a pejorative way to describe a car as “old” or “ramshackle”.

Experience Cuba Tours. Classic car in a cobblestone street in Old Havana

HAVANA,CUBA- APRIL 26,2016 : Beautifully restored classic Ford Model T car parked on a cobblestone street in Old Havana

But do we really know the origin of that term?

The Cuban vocabulary, on numerous occasions, is composed of Anglo-Saxon words that have become Spanish with the passage of time. In this case the term derives from an English expression. The phrase originated in Cuba and is closely related to the first vehicle with three pedals that went into the automobile market: The Ford model T.

The Ford Motor Company of the United States, after many years of research and development, took to the market on October 1, 1908 its famous Ford T. The model presented a lot of technical innovations, among which stood out the system of three pedals: clutch, brake and accelerator. Until then the vehicles did not include the clutch pedal. The introduction of the Ford T in the automotive market revolutionized transportation and industry in the United States.

The advertising used by the Ford to describe the novel system was the slogan “foot it and go”, referring to the clutch pedal.

When the Ford T arrived in Cuba, the phrase “foot it and go” became Spanish and the islanders began to call the vehicle “fotingo”.