1985 Trabant Tramp

It doesn’t happen very often, but this car stumped me. Until now, I was unaware that the east German company Sachsenring produced a Kübel, or Jeep-like version of their famous model 601. Intended for military and border guard use, this was a variant with no doors, a canvas roof and a steel body, with exception of the front clip. Some may remember that civilian Trabants were made out of Duroplast, or a cotton based resin, due to steel shortages in Eastern Europe. This particular Tramp for sale in Missouri was brought over to the US by an automotive engineer who used it infrequently on short hops around town.

1989 Trabant Tramp on eBay

1985 Sachsenring Trabant Tramp Convertible. Believed to be the only one in the United States! Ultra rare Tramp convertible. Only 1,337 original miles (2,154 km). Border Patrol unit, like new condition inside and out. Four-wheel independent suspension. Iconic car with a huge cult following. Clear Missouri title. Fun to drive! Incredible mechanically simple and built to last. Ready to drive anywhere two cylinders can take you!

This 1985 Trabant was last owned by renowned automotive engineer, Peter Dawson. After a legendary motorsports career, which included initiating the MOPAR performance parts group within Chrysler, Dawson developed an affinity for unique cars. This Trabant has only 1,337 miles (2,154 km) and is an amazing automotive icon. It is also very fun to drive and will draw a crowd where ever you go! Powered by a 601 cc two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled engine, backed by a four speed manual transmission, this charming little car will leave you smiling at its no-frills approach to motoring. This car has never been driven in rain or snow, always stored indoors, and is in excellent condition throughout. Everything on this car works perfectly.

Like the Beetle, and the Mini, Trabants are legendary cars. And like the Mini and Beetle, it is often referred to without any mention of its manufacturer, Sachsenring. Often disrespected, most times undeservedly, the venerable Trabant was in production for nearly 30 years with 3.7 million produced. Nothing is made nearly 4 million times without getting quite a few things right!

How did the Trabant come into existence? Before WWII, the factories in Zwickau were the home of Horch, a manufacturer of very high quality cars, including Audi. They were both part of the Auto Union group which also included DKW. When hostilities ended, Zwickau in East Germany fell under communist rule. Initially the factory was used to produce much needed tractors and trucks, but cars were badly needed as well.

Steel was rationed and in short supply, so research led to the development of Duraplast, a composite made up of a phenolic resin reinforced with cotton fibers. Duraplast panels are formed in a press similar to the process of pressing steel panels. A material still in use today, Duraplast proved to be very strong. In independent crash testing, Trabants were found to perform better than many small cars produced in Western Europe. With Duraplast bodies, very simple 2-stroke engines, and front wheel drive, the Trabants were durable, but also very easily repaired.

The Trabant P601 body style was retained until the end of production in 1991, leading many to believe that the cars stayed the same and no further development took place. In reality the cars were constantly developed and every year saw the introduction of a number of changes. The power output of the engine gradually increased, and engine improvements allowed it to run with much less oil. The brakes were improved, and the electrical system was upgraded from 6 to 12 volt. There were many other changes and the majority of them were able to be retrofitted to earlier cars.

In Europe, particularly Germany, a trend called “Ostalgie” or East Nostalgia, has taken hold. Cars from the Cold War period such as this Trabant have become fashionable once again. I can’t say how big Ostalgie is in the United States, but it doesn’t seem rampant from what I can tell. At a shade under $20,000, I think it’s safe to say this seller won’t come close to getting his asking price. This car has a very limited market and is not very usable in modern day traffic. Also, it may be hard passing emissions tests in certain states with a two-stroke engine. If I had to peg a realistic value, between $5,000 to $8,000 seems about right for a piece of East German history, but even that could be considered a bit high. I can’t help but think, however, what a neat conversation piece this would turn out to be at the next military convention or show.

-Paul

1978 Multicar M25

And now for something completely different. It’s easily forgotten that before German reunification in 1990, quite a few vehicle manufacturers existed in East Germany. VEB Sachsenring in Zwickau, makers of the Trabant, was one of the more prominent manufacturers. But there was also a handful of smaller, less well known companies, such as this tiny truck produced by VEB Fahrzeugwerk Waltershausen.

I was surprised to find this Multicar exists in the township right next door to my parents home in Pennsylvania. I’ve never seen it around up there. Then again, with a two liter four cylinder diesel good for a top speed of 35 mph, anything outside of neighborhood streets would be a chore for this truck.

1978 Multicar M25 on eBay

Here is your opportunity to own both a unique vehicle and a piece of Cold War history. The Multicar M25 is a small, specialized equipment truck that was manufactured in Waltershausen, in the former communist East Germany. As a result of its design and capabilities, the M25 is often referred to by former East Germans as a “piece of equipment on wheels”. Coincidentally, Multicar is the only former East German vehicle manufacturer to survive “the fall of the Berlin Wall”.

Besides being a fun vehicle to drive with its distinctive shape and European diesel sound, this garage maintained Multicar is probably only one of only a handful in the USA. The M25 is titled in Pennsylvania, thus registering the vehicle in any state should be an easy process. Additionally, the Multicar recently passed its Pennsylvania State Inspection and has a current inspection sticker that expires in October, 2012.

With a 2 liter diesel engine and a top speed of 35 mph, this multifunctional truck is ideal for both residential and off-street use. For those unfamiliar with an M25, as a result of its lower gear ratio, the Multicar is not intended for long term high speed use on a highway or interstate, such extended high speed use could result in overheating. Please remember that this communist made vehicle is basically a “workhorse” in accordance with communist philosophies and not a race car. With that thought in mind, the Multicar’s dual wheel axle and controllable differential allows for a 2 ton payload capacity.

The vehicle currently has 47,860 original Kilometers (29,765 miles) on the Odometer. Every effort has been made to maintain this vehicle in its original condition. Keeping that in consideration, the overall condition of the Multicar varies from good to very good condition for its age.

The exterior is in good to very good condition. The fenders, bumpers, rims and truck bed were repainted 3 years ago. At the end of communist times, the sides of the cab were painted a slightly different green to cover over communist markings and the fruit orchard’s name who originally owned the Multicar. Through polishing, the orchard’s name has been restored. Since the cab still has the original communist fruit orchard’s name on the passenger side door and I wanted to maintain its original integrity, the cab has not been repainted. For those interested in doing so, I have the matching green acrylic enamel paint for the cab, which I will be including in the sale, thus the cab could be repainted with very little effort.

In addition to the paint, I will also be including in the sale an copy of the M25 owner’s manual and a copy of the M25 Repair Manual in German. The interior is in good condition. The seats, with the exception of some age induced cracking at the top of the each seat and a stress crack on the driver’s side seat; are in good condition.

The tires are original East German manufactured tires and although they may still have plenty of useable tread available, they are aging. Thus, if you would be intending to carry loads approaching 2 tons, I would consider replacing them.

Judging from the slightly washed out signage on the side door, it seems this truck served as a produce delivery vehicle of some sort in Crimmitschau. I could see a little truck like this serving a multitude of purposes. A landscaping company could use it as a handy hauler for smaller jobs. A golf course would also be a good fit with its lower top speed. Or, possibly, a truck like this would be perfect in a downtown area like Center City Philadelphia or Manhattan for a number of small businesses, such as flower or pizza delivery. Sourcing parts could be an issue, however, Multicar is the only vehicle manufacturer from the former East Germany that survived reunification. The company is now operated under the name Hako-Werke GmbH. So getting parts might not be as hard as first assumed.

With a little under a week left in the auction, there’s been some bidding interest. The buy it now price seems a bit steep, but overall the truck looks to be in pretty good nick for a utility vehicle.

-Paul

1979 Trabant

While German vehicles have a reputation for over-engineering, reliability and prestige, cars manufactured in the former East Germany are a different story. First produced by VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in 1957, the Trabant was known for an infamously long wait times to purchase one. Some customers would wait up to 15 years to collect their new car from the time of order, which helped drive used Trabant prices up. Made out of a plastic resin called Duroplast, the Trabant had other unique features such as a gas tank mounted up high in the engine to feed fuel to the carburetor, as the vehicle did not have a fuel pump.

Here is an example of the infamous Communist runabout from the heyday of its production run:

1979 Trabant P601 LX on eBay

The seller states:

1979 Trabant P601LX. Clear NC Title. Comes with original German Fahrzeugbrief (German registration). I bought and shipped this Trabant from Germany in Dec.05. Motor starts and runs great! 6V, standard/dual point ignition. Original factory paint job; white car/green top. There are minor nicks here and there, but not worth mentioning…paint is still near 100%. Motor is super clean…starts every time and keeps running. Interior is also in great shape and very clean. Drivers seat has some minor wear (see pic). There is minor wear from a tire that sat for a while in the back seat (see pic). Drivers side mirror needs to be replaced….glass is not broken, but reflective material inside the mirror has broken up in some areas (you can find a fairly cheap replacement on German eBay). The mileage indicator has obviously turned many times since 1979…it is now at approx 2300 kilometers.

Bidding is at $4,900 with two days left in the auction and no bids. If you want a piece of East German nostalgia that you can drive, bid now, as these don’t come up for sale here stateside too often.

-Paul