Tempt­ingly cheap Trab­bies abound in Europe – and not just in Ger­many, ei­ther…

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling - Theo Ford- Sagers

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. ifa­, 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!

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