Saturday, April 9, 2016

Small Bloc: 1974 Trabant 601S

Government secrecy, restricted travel, propaganda and the passage of time make it difficult for westerners to know just what life was like on the other side of Iron Curtain during the Cold War. We are left with accounts from the people who lived there, remaining structures and relics of the era. One such relic is this 1974 Trabant 601S.  Find it here on eBay for sale in Naples, FL for $5,500 buy-it-now.

Times were tough here in the US of A for car lovers with our heavy, doggy cars in 1974.  In East Germany, however, many "cars" were more akin to enclosed four wheeled scooters than your average Detroit steel.  The "Trabbi" was a 2-cycle powered, front-engined, front-drive car with a body made from Duroplast.  While we concerned ourselves with 0-60 times in our cars, this Trabant could scarcely get there at all on level ground.  At under 26 horsepower, these vehicles were less powerful than your neighbor's riding lawn mower.

Living with this Trabant as a daily driver today would be an exercise in Zen in some regions and impossible in others.  It has a heater that operates by ducting air past the engine itself and into the cabin.  Of course, there is no AC, no tunes and no safety features to speak of. 

What the Trabant did offer was strictly in the "something is better than nothing" category.  It was the people's car of the Eastern Bloc and over 3 million were produced.  In fact, their production outlasted Soviet Socialism itself, finally ceasing in 1991.  Ultimately, much more modern competition with cleaner emissions would spell the end for the Trabant.  If you are curious, however, you can still acquire one of these relics and know first hand what getting around behind the Iron Curtain was like for those lucky enough to have wheels.  This offering looks to be a very nice example.

See another micro-car from the GDR? email us here:


  1. Somebody needs to stab an LS3 in that thing.

    1. I think a small cycle engine would be interesting.

  2. Although I actually know a guy who owns a Trabant, I have not yet had a ride in it. Something to look forward to!

    When I checked out the listing, I could not immediate see the shifter, which I thought would be on the floor. But no, it is column shift - allowing a nice flat floor. As I looked at it more closely, I realized that it is very similar to the shifter in my 2CV (the infamous umbrella handle) except that they rotated it 90 degrees to the right, and mounted it along side the steering column. But it is the same basic "slide in and out, rock from side to side" action. Interesting (at least to me!). Thanks for the lead DT.

  3. Two stroke out of a snow mobile. Or some big ass single cylinder 2 stroke from a dirt bike, just for the noise. Then take it bake to germany for a drive..


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