Trabant: Bulgaria celebrates 60th anniversary of ‘vibrator on four wheels’

Written by on November 10, 2017 in Leisure - Comments Off on Trabant: Bulgaria celebrates 60th anniversary of ‘vibrator on four wheels’

There are three words drivers around the world want to read when they purchase a car: Made in Germany. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, but also Volkswagen provide the kind of quality, design and processing car owners want for their money.

But in some cases, ‘Made in Germany’ is a curse. This applies when it turns out VW and others lied to customers about the exhaust emissions of their Diesel models or about fuel consumption. Or when the vehicle carries the logo of the wrong brand.

An actual Trabant ad.

In 1957, exactly 60 years ago, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) started manufacturing Trabants in the town of Zwickau. The Trabant P601 was the most popular model, which was built until the collapse of communism. Once the Wall had fallen, thousands of Trabants invaded Western Germany.

With its two-stroke engine, the Trabant was more of a moped on four wheels than an actual car. It sounded like a moped, it had the driving performance of a moped, it stank like a moped, and it was basically made of plastic.

In Germany, many call their Trabants ‘Sport-Pappe’ (‘racing cardboard’) or ‘vibrator on four wheels’. Taking a 100 kilometre ride in a Trabant left people shaken, not stirred, meaning travelling in one did not exactly feel like a smooth ride in a Cadillac.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. At least in most cases.

In spite of it all, everybody wanted this tiny vehicle with its 1950s design, since there weren’t too many alternatives in Eastern Bloc countries. GDR nationals had to wait for years until they got their Trabant, after ordering it. Therefore, used ones were terribly expensive.

Bulgarians were happy to get rid of their Trabants as well, right after the changes. But by now, those times are so far away, nostalgia kicked in. Therefore, there is a growing number of die-hard Trabant fans.

Tomorrow, on Saturday, November 11, 2017, many Bulgarian Trabant lovers will steer their vibrators on wheels towards the town of Pavel Banya, located right in the middle of the country. They will gather, show off their ‘racing cardboard’, discuss everything and anything related to Trabant and have a jolly good time.

Wait a second. Where is the air conditioning switch?

The participants will include Angel Peev, the President of Bulgaria’s Trabant Club. He told Bulgarian National Television that a lot of special Trabants would be on display during the event, including an original police Trabant. Peev calls his Trabant a “trampoline with a ceiling”.

Kolyo Tonchev, a proud Trabant owner, will be part of the fun as well. He actually owns three Trabants. One of them is the first one imported to Bulgaria, 54 years ago.

There are countless Trabant jokes, especially in Germany. One free sample: When does a Trabant reach its maximum speed? When it gets towed away.

German quality. It’s what drivers want, right?

Beautiful jubilarian: A sexy BMW 2000 in Sofia

 

 

Comments

comments

About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com