Journal: A Humble Start With A Humble Trabant

A Humble Start With A Humble Trabant

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
July 13, 2015
7 comments

Photography by: Erik Stoter

So there I was, moving to the countryside away from a village in which I was born and raised. There, we lived close to the railway station, but not anymore. I needed transportation, I like cycling a lot—but not during the winter or through rainstorms. I had some money, and I found myself a nice little green car—a 1967 Trabant 601 S Deluxe.

I picked him up in a city close to me, and drove it on the highway back home. That was the only time I reached the 110 km/h, and not a recommendation in a two stroke, 595cc, 600kg, cardboard car.

This was also the first time I drove an “old timer”. To hear so much noise, not knowing if it is a good or a bad sign, was strangely thrilling.

By the time I got home, we had bonded. For the next couple of days, I wouldn’t get out of it and I drove him everywhere…as long as I could get there without using the highway. 

The Trabant is a small car, just a little bigger than an Austin Mini. After almost 50 years, it’s still fully original. The two-tone factory paint…still-working Pioneer radio… It shows just 61,000 kilometers (38,000 miles) on the meter, but then who knows how often the clock went around…

This car taught me how a car works. At first, the very basics of an “engine” and cars in general, later things very specific. For example, why this car doesn’t need a fuel pump, an oil system or even cooling water! It’s the most simple car you can imagine, and start with.

I didn’t know the Trabant, but I had heard of the DDR before. I went researching, and got to know a lot about the Trabant. The little friend, a people’s car, where West Germany had its Volkswagen Beetle, France the Citroën 2CV and Britain, the iconic Mini. This was East Germany’s Mini—where people waited up to 15 years to finally drive one!

I love to drive through the village and city I live close to. It isn’t the fastest at the traffic lights, but when it’s rolling, there is no stopping it. It’ll handle sharp turns, and has good, direct handling. Racing over roundabouts and turns…and making a lot of noise at the same time is the greatest about this car.

Want to see your car on Petrolicious? Click here for more information.

Join the Conversation
Related

Leave a Reply

Daniel
Daniel

Your genuine appreciation for this simple and all-too-often ridiculed car really comes through, but maybe you describe it a little bit too modestly. You must have really babied it and ensured that it never got wet so the “cardboard” body wouldn’t disintegrate:-) If I owned the car, I would boast–tongue-in-cheek–that it had [i]composite[/i] construction! Well, resin and cotton fiber don’t suggest durability, but they seem to have gotten the job done!

Dennis Cavallino
Dennis Cavallino

Well, that didn’t work. 🙂

Dennis Cavallino
Dennis Cavallino

With picture.

Dennis Cavallino
Dennis Cavallino

You beat me! I was going to make a write up of my Trabant, which is in the Dutch DDR Museum now. It has been on TV twice already and we made a great article in Octane Magazine NL when we went to Berlin last November to celebrate the Fall of the Berlin Wall, 25 years ago. Mine is a ’89. Built one month before the fall and registered one month after the Berlin Wall fell. It’s a great little car and there are so many stories to tell. I really love it. Perhaps I should make a video instead…… Read more »

Riccardo
Riccardo

What an interesting story, well done Erik for chosing such an iconic car. It is interesting to see the perspective from someone so young that even the concept of the DDR and the whole of the communist Eastern bloc of countries is now a mere chapter in history. Having family in the “Eastern bloc” countries I still vividly recall our road trip experiences in the 80’s going through such countries to visit family. People would stop and stare at us in our “Western car”, it was like being in a spaceship! I also recall my uncles, the “car nuts” side… Read more »

William J Sisti
William J Sisti

I’m going to Budapest next week. Want me to bring back 2 or 3 as checked luggage?

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa

Go for it Erik! It maybe small and powerless, but it sure can draw attention with that green tone!