My family lived in Germany when it was a communist country (now we live in Canada). My uncle had a trabi. He said that he would trade his Jeep Cherokee for a Trabant any day.
Tho the car was made in a dark time, it brought so much joy when you got word that your trabi was on its way. The trabi wasn't a symbol of communism, it was of joy.
Yeha I live in Canada too, my dad used to own a trabant In Bulgaria, where there is still lots of trabi's more than in east Germany. So Trabant all the way!!
I live in Serbia - former Yugoslavia. Trabants can still be seen on our roads, but not that often. I suppose that it is simplest car ever made. It is indestructible. It is not 'sophisticated' and not 'high-tech' car, but it is reliable. I wouldn't trade it for Ferrari..
First off, I do not own one, but have a sort of admiration for simple machinery that works. In that regard, this car does what it is supposed to do - provide cheap transportation.
That it was in production as long as it was is a product of the long slow decline of communist countries and their inability to adapt to the times.
To put the Trabant in perspective, you need to think of the cars that were available at the time this car was designed. Here in the US, there was no market for a very small car because of our robust economy. In Europe, very small cars were in demand because of post-war economic conditions. The original VW Beetle had 25 hp. The Citroen 2CV was also air cooled and FWD with a small 2 cylinder engine. The Fiat 500 had a rear-mount low-powered air-cooled engine too. The British Mini had a water cooled 850cc engine with 30hp (IIRC) when it was introduced in 1959. NONE of these cars would be considered clean, comfortable, or good handling (Mini excepted) to a person used to modern cars! History though, is sometimes kind to poor designs due to nostalgia.
I may never have lived the life of the original owner of a Trabant, but I would definitely buy one today if I could get it cheaply. I would probably change out it's mechanical parts to pieces from common US-market small cars for ease of service and improved performance, but would try to keep it's character intact. The same goes for an old Mini too. To me, this is not a bastardization as it is common practice in their countries of origin. Then again, I may leave it alone and enjoy it for the anachronism it is. It is a part of history and a lesson on the folly of Marxism.
There's a super new book out about two stroke cars, including Trabant's, Wartburg's, Saab's, DKW's, FSO, Barkas, Lloyd, Goggomobil and more.
Yes, the book is called 'Two Stroke Cars Of The Past' and it devotes almost 80 pages to the Trabant, telling the full story from start to finish. I've read this book, and thought it was a fantastic read. It also covers many other simple two stroke cars, like Wartburg's (also from East Germany), FSO Syrena (Poland), DKW, Lloyd and many more. It's a huge book and a cracking read.
It's also on Ebay.