Trabant Day

May 15th will henceforth be known as “Trabant Day” here in central Warsaw. These cars were uncommon but definitely around when I first came to Warsaw but have gradually disappeared over time to the point it became likely the next time I would see one would be when they were much sought after ‘classic cars’.

Not so, as today I saw no less than two of them, and here they are in all their glory:

Trabant 601 / P60 (1963-1989 with 25 horsepower 2-stroke engine)


Trabant 601 / P60 (1963-1989 with 25 horsepower 2-stroke engine)


Trabant 601 Kombi (1990/1991 with VW 1.1L 4-stroke engine)


(note the Tyskie delivery en-route to island’s apartment!)

I widened the shots of the top one to include two other cars as they, together, make some kind of record of the changing trends in car ownership in Warsaw. First, people dreamed of owning a Trabant. Then they aspired to a previously written-off Beemer imported from Germany. Now they have moved up to dreaming of a Volvo X90, or similar. This is progress in a parking lot!

To be honest, the Trabant was actually far more popular in the good old DDR than here in Poland. In Poland it was the Maluch, or Fiat 126p, that reigned supreme;

The Trabant was however a better car, so I’m told. It had stunning performance figures of 0-100km/hr in 21 seconds and a top speed of 112km/hr. The body was made from plastic, well Duroplast, to be precise which meant it was the first car to be made mostly from recycled materials. Its eco-friendliness was rather demolished though by the emissions, which got up to nine times the acceptable amounts from modern cars, and from such a small engine!

Of course the Trabi and the Maluch were cars for those who found themselves less equal than others, if you were a person of some magnificence back then, you’d be pimping your ride up to a minimum of a Fiat 125……possibly even a Polonez….

…or, if you were the biggest cheese in town, you might get as high as a Soviet-made, Wolga (in black, of course)


Ah…..those were the days!


3 thoughts on “Trabant Day

  1. The trabant was very dangerous ,when you had an accident ,because this “duroplast” catched fire very quickly and many people were burned alive in their cars, even if it was a minor accident (but with blocked doors).

    My mother worked in the PZU insurance company and she heard really many horror stories about that in the 80s .

  2. somebody tried to give me a Polonez once, literally give it to me, they were so desperate to be rid of it. I wisely declined the offer. Please note I have my beer delivered directly from Zywiec, it’s much closer.

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