Under the Obama administration, restrictions have been lifted on the number of times Cuban-Americans can travel to visit relatives on the island.
Auto parts can be brought in under a Cuban government point system: There is a limit of 200 points per person receiving shipped items and a 1,000-point limit for those bringing items themselves on a visit to the island. A trailer to attach to the back of a car is 100 points, while a light bulb is 20.
Some large pieces, such as engine blocks, are not allowed.
Torres bought about 80 percent of the new parts in his cousin's car from Zakharov's shop, including tires, wheels and door handles, and spent about $2,000 in all. He took most of the parts in suitcases on four trips to Cuba, paying a $1-per-pound fee.
The once-decrepit blue Lada is now shiny red with a sporty black stripe along the side.
"He had an old car," Torres said. "And now he has a new one."
Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Havana contributed to this report.
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