Temptingly cheap Trabbies abound in Europe – and not just in Germany, either…
Back in the Trabant’s Cold War heyday, few of us had much appetite for smoky two-strokes and strange Duroplast bodyshells, so exports of the car to capitalist westerners outside of East Germany were minimal to say the least.
But fortunately for the Trabant, one person’s ‘grim and awful’ is another’s ‘cute and quirky’, and the Trabby developed a loyal following in UK and elsewhere.
Good news if you’re planning to buy one because you’ll find that there are plenty of knowledgeable and friendly enthusiasts to help you out, despite their relative rarity.
A few Trabbies became garagecandy for enthusiasts in the USA, where commie quirkiness and puny engines offer a pleasing contrast to more traditional American muscle. But eastern Europe – and Germany in particular – still offers by far the greatest selection.
Simon Clamp, chairman of the Wartburg Trabant IFA club (www. ifaclub.co.uk), bought a Trabant in Hungary four years ago. Amazingly, the seller arranged for its transport to the UK for just £200. He says: ‘Some people in Hungary are now specialising in bringing Trabbies to the UK to sell.
‘Hungary and Poland seem to offer the best value at the moment, and you can buy a decent enough Trabby requiring only minimal work for about £1200, and have it transported to the UK.’
Or if you fancy a challenge, bring one home yourself; under its own steam if it’s road-legal, or on a trailer if it’s not. The Trabby’s titchy 600kg kerbweight means that you don’t necessarily need a Land Rover to tow one. Bear in mind local regulations though; in Germany for example, Simon needed a temporary licence plate (when buying his two Wartburgs), costing about 90 euros, before he could drive cars out of the country.
Trabant’s home town of Zwickau, near Germany’s eastern border with the Czech Republic, is a 600-mile drive from Calais. Among the regular activities of the IFA Club is the ambitious ‘Bangers to Bratwurst’ road run from the UK back to Zwickau. Become a member, take a comrade and pick up a Trabbie!