"Trabi" (the word means satellite) is one of the hidden marvels of German engineering. East Germany ("DDR")had very limited resources after WWII, in addition to some pretty weird manufacturing restriction, such as no 4-cycle engines and limits on steel production. Hence the Trabi was born with a 26-hp, air-cooled, two-cycle engine and a body made out of a cellulose composite (not metal!) rendering it a bit unsafe in crashes. The car is very simple: the gas tank is at the highest point under the hood, and the fuel is gravity-fed to the carburator (no fuel pump), the engine is air-cooled (no need for radiator, antifreeze or waterpump), and it has a direct ignition system (no need for distributor cap/rotor, etc.). The inside is very cramped and its dashboard has a profound simplicity: a speedometer, a digital vacuum gauge and a few switches. Max speed is 60 mph (more than enough for the bad roads in E Europe). Some of the trickier things about running one are adding oil to the fuel manually (like the old lawnmowers). The car also has a cute dipstick with liter-marks that one can dip in the gas tank to see how much gas there is, since there is no fuel gage. The gravity-fed fuel line has a manual shut-off that one has to use after parking not to flood the enginge. The shifter is a column-mounted, L-shaped, 4 speed thing with a black plastic handle. The design of the car is distinctive but simple. Round bug-type headlights, two doors and vertical stoplights complement some pretty odd color choices, such as diarrhea brown or traffic-light green.
Parts for trabis are hard to find because the car has been out of production since 1989 or so.
Prices shown in USD.
Type your email address below to get our free Urban Word of the Day every morning!
Emails are sent from firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll never spam you.