A Humble Start With A Humble Trabant
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.
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