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The Trabant-the German Car You Didn’t Know About

- Marty Way


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The Trabant was the only car manufactured in East Germany from 1957 to 1990. It was to the automobile industry what the dandelion is to grand floral bouquets. For 33 years, the design of the Trabant (“companion” in translation) never changed. If you ordered a one, you could expect it to be delivered in 10 to 13 years.A98DE326-516B-40F2-92E2-2F283618986D.jpeg

The Trabant ran hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and broke down frequently, but any proletarian who flipped up the hood would find an engine he/she could fix him/her self. Its two-cylinder, 594 cc, two-stroke engine, delivered 26 horses of power and smoked like a chainsaw when it was started. The car cruised comfortably at 60 km/hr, but if pushed (with lots of running room and maybe a little down hill) could reach 90 km/hr…but the engine would be screaming.

Body of the Trabant was a composite (duroplast) of shredded-cotton (rumoured to be recycled Soviet military uniforms) and resin pressed together to form outside panels. The panels were glued together to make the car-body, then bolted to the chassis.

So, did the subtle lines of a Trabant send a flush of Adrenalin into the carburetor of the proletarian heart? Did she ever have’ fun fun fun ‘til her daddy took the Trabi away?’ We’ll never know. But a fraulein’s heart was never set aflutter by the smoky rev of a Trabi. There was no inertia, no being pressed into the seat, no euphoria, no primitive pressure in the loins. Besides, even topped-up with 22 litres of fuel, joy-riding the Trabi was brief.

Are there East German boomers, Gen-Xer and Millennials who were conceived in the back seat of a Trabant? We’ll never know, but who could fault motorists for succumbing to a lively commingle to spark a few BTUs of heat? Because the Trabi didn’t make any heat.76E0F4EC-9D06-48BB-A6BC-EAA88AF28756

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So, what is it about this car that is strangely alluring? Maybe its those little fins at the back, reminiscent of the North American land-yachts of the 1950s and 60s. It could be the all function-no fashion demeanour of the Trabant; an unapologetic way to get from points A to B without walking. Here is clunky simplicity; a communist artifact that says: “It’s car, comrade. It works. What more you need?”

Whatever it is, Trabants are in demand by car collectors. The Trabi has become a symbol of the economic suppression behind the former iron curtain.

Posted by WayWayFar 06:46 Archived in Germany

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