Trabant: Considered To Be One Of The World’s Worst Cars

Craig Hamm was recently in Europe and he sent me some photographs that he thought I would find interesting.   Among these photographs were pictures of several Trabant cars.  These are the legendary and certainly infamous cars of East Germany.  The Trabant is generally known as one of the worst cars ever built.

Trabant IMG_0048

The Trabant

The Trabant was designed in 1958 and it changed very little changed during its production life which ended in 1991.  The story of the Trabant begins at the end of World War II in 1945.  The old factories of Audi and Horch were located on the wrong side of the “Iron Curtain”.  What was left of these two companies were merged in 1958 to form VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke.  Sachsenring was the company that built the Trabant.

Trabant IMG_0046

The Design Of The Rear Has A Hint Of 1950s American Fins

The Trabant was powered by a flat two-cylinder, two-stroke 500cc engine up to 1963, at which time the engine size was increased to a 595cc which produced 26 horsepower.  This low-horsepower engine drove the front wheels.  The reported top speed of the Trabant was 62 miles per hour (100 km/hr).  I expect that the acceleration could be timed by a calendar.

After German reunification in 1990, Volkswagen parts were used to build some of the last Trabants, but production the car was about to be shut down and not many Trabants have these better components.

Trabant IMG_0063

Thankfully The Trabant Is Not A Large Car Given The Size Of The Engine

The Trabant is small car, but it seems to be large enough for four people to fit inside in a manner comparable to today’s small cars.

Trabant IMG_0062

The body panels were “Duraplast” which was made from trash.  I guess that this made it a car ahead of its time.  The “Duraplast” material was a resin-strengthened blend of wood pulp and cotton.  I would expect that getting into an accident in a Trabant did not end well.

Trabant IMG_0047

Despite The Glass Reflection, The Trabant Interior Looks Very Basic

The Trabant cars were produced in large numbers with a total production of close to 3.1 million cars.  These cars were legendary “smokers” with their two-stroke engines, certainly would be classified as polluters, and generally not well-loved or even well-liked.  I believe that most Germans who lived in East Germany are glad to see these cars disappear.

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2 Responses to Trabant: Considered To Be One Of The World’s Worst Cars

  1. Jeffrey Dungen says:

    Steve, you should read the book Trabant Trek where some young westerners drive three Trabies from the former East German factory to Southeast Asia across the Stans. Plenty of adventure there!!!

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