The history of this plastic car is, in fact, the history of the German Democratic Republic. After the Second World War, the German town of Zwickau (Zwickau) went to the GDR. This city is known for the fact that on its territory there was a factory that produced cars of such famous brands as Horchand then Audi, which were part of the concern Auto Union. The plant was nationalized and named AWZ (Auto Werke Zwickau). In 1955, it began production of a front-wheel drive subcompact AWZ P70, a little later, called "Trabant" (model R-600).
The name arose under the influence of the launch in the USSR of the first artificial Earth satellite ("trabant", translated from German - "satellite"). This was also indicated by the logo in the form of a stylized letter "S".
The body of the car was made of a special, extremely durable plastic, known as "duroplast", for the production of which waste from the wood processing industry was used. Initially, the car was produced only with a 2-door sedan-type body. Later, station wagon models appeared and a model with a lightweight body without a roof and doors, called the Trump (Tramp - 1979) - it was quite actively used in the army.
The advantages of the machine are as obvious as its disadvantages are obvious. The unsightly but cheap car weighed only 620 kg, thanks to which its weak two-stroke water-cooled engine could accelerate the car to 100 km / h in 21 seconds - not bad at that time for such a baby. The plastic case was not only light, but also completely corrosion-resistant. The car's suspension was originally designed for bad roads. He was not interested in hijackers by definition.
|Trabant 601 (picture taken from here)|
"Trabants" were produced for more than 30 years. Almost unchanged - the most significant was the appearance in 1963 of the model R-601 with increased engine size. All this puts the car on a par with such legends as Volkswagen Beetle, FIAT 600, Citroen 2CV и VAZ 2101 - cars simple and unsightly, but put behind the wheel of millions of poor people around the world.
Avtomobilchik became not just legendary - he was a real symbol of the GDR. Lines formed behind him. The capacities of East German industry were not enough and people were waiting for their car for years. The lucky ones who waited affectionately called their pet "Trabi" (Trabi or Trabbi). By the way, immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a kind of ritual was performed - the burning of the Trabant car, as a synthetic symbol of a synthetic country that no longer exists.
In 1989, the Zwickau plant acquired Volkswagen. And on April 30, 1991, the production of plastic cars stopped. However, the history of "Trabant" is not over. Firstly, there were thousands of cars "on the go" throughout the country, the owners of which would never want to part with their favorites. And secondly, they planned to start the production of Trabant in another place: in 1997, in Uzbekistan, at the Tashkent plant Olympus. Outwardly, the machine remained the same, its technical part did not change either (only the control became manual - for the disabled). Instead of waste from the wood processing industry, they used waste from the cotton processing industry. The car was named "Olympus 601". The main advantage of the revived brand should have been its exceptionally low price, and therefore availability. However, production did not become mass and quickly ceased.
There are also rumors that they are going to revive the "Trabant" in South Africa. Under the name africar. A cheap, simple and reliable car will not go unnoticed by poor African families. As in the case of the Olymp 601, it is expected that the cost of the car will not exceed $3,000.
But that's not all. In 2008 the German company Herpa (a well-known manufacturer of collectible models) bought the rights to manufacture cars under the Trabant brand. But in this case, everything is different. The company is planning to start manufacturing cars with the latest technology and designs reminiscent of a good old plastic car. Sort of Volkswagen Beetle 2 - an attempt to capitalize on the legendary name and on a sense of nostalgia. Whether the production of the new Trabant will begin or not, time will tell.
It is impossible not to tell about the Frankfurt Motor Show 2009 (Frankfurt Motor Show IAA 2009), where the concept car was presented Trabant NT. The creators of this cute little car were also inspired by the good old R-600. The ideas are the same - simple design, low cost, compact size. True, what plans the creators of this concept have is not yet clear.
True legends don't die...