Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germans essentially had one car to choose from... The less than appetizing Trabant.
American motoring journalist Doug DeMuro has become well known for his off-the-cuff video reports starring some really intriguing cars. Porsche Carrera GTs, a Koenigsegg, and even Bugattis have featured in the past. However, Doug doesn’t restrict his content to just the upper echelon of automotive society. This week he’s taking a closer look at the East German Trabant.
Claiming it to be one of the worst cars ever made at the very opening of his video, Doug highlights why this product of a communist state fell short. The reasonably well preserved 1981 model is almost identical to the very first Trabants launched in the early 1960s.
Under the hood is a two-stroke two-cylinder engine producing just 26hp. Naturally, the air-cooled motor feels slow today, but it was underpowered even by standards set when it was brand-new — it isn’t even capable of 60mph.
This product of East Germany was pretty much the only car offered on the soviet side of the wall, while West Germans enjoyed all of the choice Europe and America had to offer. In addition to a lack of options, Trabant owners also had to make do with low quality engineering. Doug points out how panel gaps are inconsistent, and can even be asymmetric on the same panel.
Luxuries the Trabant does without included a glovebox, fuel access door, and gas gauge. Even the windshield washing function is manual and has to be pumped from the dashboard. Seatbelts? They were eventually added for front occupants, but those sat in the back only had hopes and prayers fastening them to the car.
This example was actually brought to Washington DC to take part in a parade organised by the International Spy Museum. The collection of Trabants was used to mark the anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s destruction.
We have to agree with Doug that this Trabant has to be amongst the very worst ever built, with almost no redeeming features whatsoever — other than maybe its quirky Soviet heritage.
More on quirky cars
- Make New Friends On The Water With This 1962 Amphicar 770
- The Super SUV That Arrived A Decade Too Early: Spyker D12