Trabant Gets Lots of Smiles Per Gallon
Owner and Photographer: Benny Vermeulen
Year, Make, and Model: 1987 Trabant Universal
Location: Leuven, Belgium
I’ve always ridden two-stroke scooters (mostly Vespas) and was looking for a car that had the same spirit as the classic scooters. And the Trabant, which moved much of East Germany for so many years (1957-’91) with its tiny, 600cc two-stroke engine happily smoking and purring along was perfect.
A young guy owned and restored this particular Trabant in The Netherlands, but while driving through Belgium the Trabi’s ignition system failed and the owner was stranded. He left the car with our IFA (East German Cars) club’s technician (who runs a local car museum with lots of East German cars in St. Kathelijne Waver).
The Trabant is pure simplicity, I love it! The two-stroke engine is very easy to maintain and parts are cheap and readily available. The car ‘smiles’, and causes people who see it to respond in kind. Except cyclists, they seem to hate the smell and smoke, hehe.
I’m learning to work on the car myself and have already replaced the exhaust gasket, which was blown. I also plan to fix everything myself (with the help of our club members) should something break in the future. Nowadays, I use the car to drive around with my three-year-old son. It’s safer than having him on my scooter. He enjoys it and calls the car “Pops”. We mostly attend meetings and drive around in the countryside, smiling.
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