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Trabant

Trabant

It is November 1989 when the Berlin Wall falls and with that, in addition to an unlikely number of 'happy' people, a new star appears from behind this concrete firmament. The unexpected breaking down of the barrier between East and West Berlin yields thousands of Trabants, the status symbol of the German Democratic Republic. With much crackling and in a cloud of blue smoke, the circus enters the free (...) world.

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In a short time, the Trabant becomes the world's most famous automobile. On every television screen, in every newspaper it could be seen, even the rock band U2 used the Trabant to tour the DDR with it. Ironically, this "liberation" also meant death for the hopeless Trabant. The production stopped two years later. Nearly 1957 million copies had been built since the introduction in 3,1. The Trabant stood at the cradle of space travel, the introduction running almost simultaneously with that of the Sputnik.

Technically progressive


For the communist empire it was therefore a progressive car, one with independent wheel suspension, front-wheel drive, a self-supporting, rust-free body covered with 'cardboard'. However, it was not cardboard but Duraplast, largely plastic recycled waste. The 'cardboard' story spread quickly, as did the countless jokes about the Trabi. Thanks to this 'cardboard' the trolley was therefore very light and that was a good thing because the drive was made using a pre-war, air-cooled, two-stroke lubricated DKW engine with a content of 494 cm3. At every refueling, oil had to be added to the gasoline. The intention was to make the Trabant in the Eastern Block as successful as the Volkswagen on the Western side of the hermetically sealed border. Within a few years the wagons fanned out from the factory in Zwickau at full speed and indeed, it became the best-selling car in the GDR. That was of course because there was no competition and everything was controlled by the government. The customer was given enough time to save, because the waiting time was 15 years. Used Trabants often yielded more than a new one because such a thing could be purchased immediately. In 1963 the rounder introduction model - the P50 - was 'pulled up', slightly tighter, and got a 'thicker' engine of almost 600 cm3 with which 23 hp could be delivered to the bad road surface. A year later another modified model followed and was renamed '601'. And it remained like that for years, because what it had to compete with, after all, there was nothing else, nothing comparable on the Eastern bloc market. Shortly before the fall of the Wall in 1989, an agreement had been reached by Volkswagen for the delivery of the 1.043 cm3 engine from the Polo, but also another suspension. For example, McPherson struts on the front.

End and a new beginning

However, by the time the Trabant 1.1 went into production in 1990, East and West Germany seemed to become one again, the population there could exchange their worthless money for respectable piles of Western currency, there was no longer a need to wait, made quickly: never again a Trabant! The once acclaimed Trabant - which lasted an average of 28 years (!) - was useless in one fell swoop. Many were given away for free or simply left along the road. More than a quarter of a century later, the Trabant is one cult car, especially in the German capital, where dozens of specimens in cheerful colors - instead of the somber blue, green, gray or beige - drive around with on board tourists who allow themselves to be driven to tourist attractions in such a thing. And those David Hasselhoff think that the song had fallen through the wall ..., no, it was because of the simmering and smoking Trabants who came through the holes in the Wall, on their way to freedom ...

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