Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Car of Your Nightmares


MEMENTOS OF A RECENT PAST

This is a Trabant, parked on a street in Budapest. Powered by a two-stroke pollution generator that maxed out at an ear-splitting 18 hp, the Trabant was a hollow lie of a car constructed of recycled worthlessness (actually, the body was made of a fiberglass-like Duroplast, reinforced with recycled fibers like cotton and wood).

I took a peek at the interior. It did have a sort of 70s look to it.

A virtual antique when it was designed in the 1950s, the Trabant was East Germany's answer to the VW Beetle — a "people's car," as if the people didn't have enough to worry about. Trabants smoked like an Iraqi oil fire, when they ran at all, and often lacked even the most basic of amenities, like brake lights or turn signals.

But history has been kind to the Trabi. It looks rather picturesque even to me here on a charming old Buda street. Thousands of East Germans drove their Trabants over the border when the Wall fell, which made it a kind of automotive liberator. Once across the border, the none-too-sentimental Ostdeutschlanders immediately abandoned their cars. Ich bin Junk! (My thanks to Time Magazine for these clever lines.)

11 comments:

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Oh how we have laughed at this absolutely glorious post!!!

We have to admit to being seduced by this 'hollow lie of a car'[such a terrific phrase] and have fancied ourselves motoring along in one in bohemian fashion, caring not for comfort, worrying not about the lack of petrol indicator, the wind in our hair even with the windows firmly wound up!!!!!

Trabi, Wir lieben dich!!!!!

Paisley Curtain said...

Greetings!
I consider myself a car guy and what a shame that I have not heard of Trabant. Thanks for educating for ignorants like me.

The car looks harmless if you look at the pictures, but once you read the description it feels like a villain. Blue Trabant parked in the street looks charming though.

Anonymous said...

Was it a lost cousin of the Yugo? I remember the one of the first sites bombed during the Bosnian war was the Yugo factory.

Anonymous said...

In Berlin you can now hire them for the day. I think they have probably been 'improved' for health and safety reasons!

La Dolfina said...

Hello Paul,
I am so humbled by your visit and comment about our backyard.
I was so shocked and honestly a bit red faced to think you looked at it.
I consider myself a complete dunce when it comes to gardens and landscaping and have struggled my adult life to understand plants and design. I feel like I have zero talent when it comes to this particular art. And then the "Master" drops by! I was at once excited and humiliated but just had to come over and thank you for making my day!!!!
You are a kind and generous soul!!!!
Humbly,
Therese

Paul Gervais de Bédée said...

Dear Therese, I don't deserve much of that, but thank you for the sweet thoughts. See you soon!

Paul Gervais de Bédée said...

That would be fun (for a day!)

Paul Gervais de Bédée said...

Maybe the Yugo had a bit more to it, but we're on the same page.

Paul Gervais de Bédée said...

It is oddly decorative, isn't it?

Paul Gervais de Bédée said...

I can see you in one now, Jane in an Isadora Duncan scarf and with the top open, perhaps by a can opener intervention.

MM(mm) said...

Hi Paul!

The yellow one is a newer version of the Trabant, it has a 4-cycle VW Polo engine, manufactured by licence.

The light blue is the the original 2-cycle one.

Just for the correct information :)