Cars that most people wish to foreget!

A review of the Trabant Automobile
Published by: All Car Central Publishing
Date published: 07/12/2013
Available in Ebook

Cars that most people wish to foreget!

Germany has produced some outstanding vehicles like the BMW or Porsche not forgetting the Mercedes, however between 1957 and 1900 another vehicle hit the street of Germany or I should say East Germany. Produced by VEB Sachsenring located in Saxony. Its name the "Trabant", a two stroke 500/600cc, two door sedan. In total well over three and a half million of these cars were produced and any would be buyer had to wait as much as three or even four years to obtain this vehicle. To describe the car as dreadful compared with the other cars being produced during the same time period would be the understatement of the year, however in East Germany there was an increasing demand for anything with four wheels and an engine, even if it was a polluting, unreliable, under powered, box on wheels. Various versions were produced including...Wait for it...A Stretch Modified Limousine. (Note...This was not a factory option"). There was also a deluxe version that had a two tone paint finish and chrome bumpers.

1974 Trabant sedan Submitted by Rick Feibusch

The East German Police were issued with this car but it was not part of any crime activity simply a PR operation by the East German government. Apart from the engine the car featured a body made in a product called "Duroplast". This was a type of plastic produced from recycled materials including cotton waste imported from the USSR. All reports indicate that this material could be stronger than certain production steel used in the 1950/60 by the west. The name "TRABANT" is also interesting. Chosen in 1957 when the world woke up to hear the beeps from the Russian Sputnik circling the earth. The word in German means a moon or any other natural satellite. The first car featured a 500 cc two stroke engine copied from a prewar DKW design. To try and add a little more performance later the size was increased to 600cc. As a matter of personal interest I have a 1934 AERO with a similar two stroke power unit made in Czechoslovakia...Two stroke power units were, and to a certain extent sill are, popular in eastern Europe but far more environmental friendly these days, in fact great strides have been made with such engines especially in the marine application. The attraction is that routine service is simple compared with the modern computer driven power unit. (Lift up the hood of your modern car and you will see what I mean!) Originally the designers and production staff at the factory expected production to ease off by 1967 when new designs were in the pipeline but a never ending shortage of parts and critical materials meant that new designs and new power units were put on hold. In reality the last car was not that much different to the first as far as design and performance was concerned. As a matter of interest these cars even when permission was granted by the East German government, had problems when they ventured in West Germany simply because their pollution level was four times as much as the West German Government and West Europe allowed.

Trabant production ceased in 1991 and the factory was eventually sold to VW. After the unification of the Germany, it is now producing parts for "Audi" and certain other VW interests. In the late 1990s there were plans to put the "Trabant" back into production but that's as far is the project went. Strange to report this car has now become a collector item and many have been exported to collectors all over the world.

In the USA Trabant owners celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall with an annual rally in Washington DC...Its named the Parade of Trabants. As yet I have not seen this but plan to spend a few days in Washington some November to see this event. Not to be outdone by the Yanks there are several Trabant Car Clubs throughout Europe.

I was recently in Germany and noted that I could hire a "Trabant" for a day or longer and drive around the city or farther if I desired. The cost was equal to any decent hire car but my better half was not keen in the adventure so I must wait until I go the Washington!

There was some talk of the car making a serious comeback when the Herpa Company, who make small cars in their factory in Bavaria purchased the rights to the name. A model was presented at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2007 and in 2009 a new "Trabant" model was unveiled at the same event. If this ever became reality one thing is for sure, the power unit would have to be a modern four stroke unit. However with the success of the BMW Mini and the Baby Fiat not to mention several other small attractive cars now being produced both in Europe and elsewhere, I can see no potential market for this relic of the Cold War.

Remember the Yugo...I rest my case!

Geoff Wheatley ©