Trabant: Communist Chic?



Now we are all up for purity, simplicity and stripped-down functionality in our cars. We like to drive, after all, rather than sit in a cossetted virtual environment redolent of bubble economies and the ubiquitous pixel. But it’s fairly difficult to get our heads around why the Trabant – relic of cold war-era command economies and the ubiquitous desire to get the hell out of the Communist bloc – retains an enduring appeal.


But is it so difficult to understand? This nice example of the Trabi Delux: complete with colour co-coded steel hubs, branded mudflaps and an appealing two tone champagne colour, undoutedbly has some tangential coolness about it. It might struggle to get up to fifty on a good day and with a prevailing wind you’ll be able to smell the two stoke engine’s fumes in Leipzig, but it remains, despite ourselves kind of cute.


Millions of these little monsters were produced in the DDR (the misnamed German Democratic Republic) between 1957 until the wall came down in 1989. They had a steel monocoque chassis and were front wheel drive, but the body panels were made from a recycled material called Duroplast, which, apparently, lessened the East German state-owned manufacturer’s need for expensive steel imports.

This particular car was snapped in the parking space of the Chairman of Bath and North East Somerset Council. Is the love of a retro car is the only communist sympathy the councillor is harbouring? Or could it be that we are we about to see the good burghers of Bath turn a deeper shade of red?