1986 Trabant 601 Review

1986 Trabant 601 S Deluxe 0.6 litre two-stroke from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership2000
Most recent year of ownership2001
Engine and transmission 0.6 litre two-stroke Manual
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired80000 kilometres
Most recent distance85000 kilometres
Previous carTrabant 601

Summary:

Fun transport for the price of a push bike

Faults:

Windscreen washer motor replaced.

Battery replaced (but lasted at least 6 years according to the sticker).

Front suspension joint replaced.

I hardly noticed the cost.

General Comments:

Plus Points:

The lowest running costs of any car on the road - cheap to buy, low servicing costs, cheap parts, cheap insurance, good fuel economy, and no depreciation.

A real crowd-pulling classic.

Even a mechanical incompetent like myself can service or trouble-shoot.

Parts are readily available.

They are surprisingly roomy in the front (I am 6-4) and boot (trunk).

Minus Points:

The power is hardly sufficient to pull the skin from a rice pudding.

The seats are pretty uncomfortable.

Brakes are only just adequate.

Rear seats suitable only for pixies, gnomes or children.

Okay, so as a car it has limitations - what "classic* car doesn't? Personally, I choose to ignore these limitations.

Their low top speed means they are best suited to city driving, but I have regularly driven on the motorway and autobahn and lived to tell the tale.

They are best suited to transporting 2 people, but I have driven with 4 adults in the car and all were able to walk afterwards (eventually).

They are not the most comfortable car for long journeys, but I have driven up to 800 miles in one stretch and have arrived unscathed.

I returned to Germany to buy another this year, which is as good an advertisement as you can get for any car. It is still relatively easy to get a good one there, but they are becoming rarer.

Get one while you can. You know it makes sense.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th July, 2001

27th Mar 2003, 15:45

Of course it makes sense! I couldn't agree more with you! My first car will be a Trabant, without doubt! Even though I live in England it's still possible to buy one over here. I will probably be the only person in my city to own one, but I can guarantee that all my friends will be asking me questions on it, wanting rides in it, etc...

10th Apr 2003, 10:01

My Hungarian girlfriend's brother has a Trabi, which his missus uses for popping down to the shops and stuff. I got (demanded) a shot when I was out there recently.

Initially, I found the gearshift to be unpredictable, selecting reverse instead of a forward gear, but once I got used to that I swear I haven't had so much fun driving a car in years!

It's like driving a slightly faster (and less luxurious) dodgem car, and just as much fun. It's all you can do to not burst out laughing! I imagine the novelty value of driving such a ridiculous article might wear off given time, though. Or perhaps not.

The only thing with Trabis is that they're no fun to be stuck behind, especially if you find yourself behind one of the smokier ones on a winding uphill Hungarian road. Local drivers appear to be particularly stubborn and don't take kindly to overtaking attempts.

29th Mar 2004, 07:08

Trabant is the best. But sometimes it's difficult to keep it without money... can you tell me how can I sell it abroad? I'm from Poland.. if anybody could help me with it I would be grateful / pieras2@O2.pl.!!!!!!!!!!!

19th May 2007, 12:22

I recall making the first comment a few years ago about my first car being a Trabant. Sadly that hasn't materialised (I drive a reliable, sensible, but somewhat boring Nissan Micra) but I still aspire to owning one someday soon. Que sera sera.

12th Aug 2007, 07:42

Hmmm... The best answer to all questions like "who needs old plastic Trabant?" is to visit www.601.pl to see how a "normal" Trabant becomes a really fantastic car. This is no more car - now this is PASSION... 601 Passions :)

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 1 review