A visit to the Trabant museum, almost next to Checkpoint Charlie. The car was manufactured from 1957 to 1990 by VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in East Germany.
The East German government had nothing. No plans, no resources, just an old, leftover DKW factory and a general idea that the East German people needed a car they could afford. The Trabant is a triumph of making something from nothing. They didn’t even have enough steel to build the bodies out of, so Trabant engineers developed what was the first large-scale application of recycling to solve this problem: they took cotton waste from the Soviet Union (think Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev’s old underpants) and phenol resins from the dye industry and used that to make Duroplast, the fiberglass-like stuff Trabant bodies were made from.
The two-stroke engine has maybe five moving parts. The gas tank is positioned as high as possible in the engine compartment, and the carb as low as possible because there’s no fuel pump; it’s all a gravity feed. In case of a head-on collision that will leave you with an extreme fire hazard. But, so did the VW Beetles ...
When it ceased production in 1990, the Trabant delivered 19 kW (26 horsepower) from a 600 cc (37 cu in) displacement. It took 21 seconds to accelerate from zero to its top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). The final two Trabant years also saw a Trabant 1.1 manufactured parallel to the 600 cc model. The 1.1 engine is touted as a VW Polo engine, but the Trabant engineers claimed that the VW used a Trabant engine. A long political story.
The German leute (especialy in Berlin) like to give petnames to various objects. The Trabant is referred to as a Trabi. In a similar fashion People from erstwhile East Berlin are Ossis, vs the Wessis from old West Berlin. One cannot yet say that Ossis and Wessis are unreserved Berliners in each other's company.
Oh, and the interior shown in the bottom left is not a stripped interior. That is how it was. The other 3 pictures are just various style applications of the Trabant.