Cars for Communists—The East German Trabant

Here is more about the Trabant, which was manufactured between 1957 through 1991, with a total of 3.7 million units produced. Most Trabants had two-stroke engines (499 cc through 1962, 594 cc afterward) which required mixing oil with gasoline at every fill-up. In 1990 and 1991 a small number of Trabants were sold with a 1043 cc four-stroke engine produced under license from Volkswagen.

Trabant” means “satellite” in German, and was chosen to capitalise upon the futuristic connotation of Sputnik, which was launched in 1957, the same year the car was introduced. Despite its shortcomings, demand exceeded supply for most of the Trabant’s history, with waiting times as long as fifteen years to receive a car.


Robert Dunn owns a Trabant and has made several videos about it: How to Drive a Trabant - YouTube (playlist)