Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Trabant Club Museum, Zwickau

The Trabant was built at the old Audi factory in Zwickau for more than 30 years. The factory is now the August Horch Museum and the museum normally has a large exhibition dedicated to the factory's post-war history. The collection includes a rare post-war Horch 930S and an extensive display of IFA and Trabants. Unfortunately for us, when we visited the museum in July 2017, the post-war section was closed for renovation. Part of the post-war museum collection has been moved to the nearby Trabant International Register museum. We took the opportunity to visit the little collection and it was a very pleasant local museum staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. If you are in visiting Zwickau it is worthwhile making a detour.

The predecessors - IFA F8 and F9, which were copies of DKW prewar cars.

The IFA F8 was the postwar copy of the prewar DKW F8, with some minor modifications.

The IFA F9 was the realisation of the 1939 DKW F9 'Hohnklasse.' DKW only built 9 pre-production examples before the war intervened. IFA recovered a single example in Leipzig and used it to reverse engineer their version of the car.

The Horch P240. During the war Horch had ceased manufacturing luxury cars and become a heavy truck manufacturer. After the war they continued building trucks but they did have a few Horch 930 chassis tucked away and they were used to build half a dozen limousines for party officials. These cars were so prized that Horch was contracted to build a production car. The result was the P240. It was a far cry from the extravagant luxury of their prewar cars but these were austere times. Only a few hundred were built.

The Horch P240 had some stylistic influences of heavy American cars of the 1950s

IFA F9 cabriolet

The Trabant's predecessor - the AWZ P70. The similarity to the Trabant lies in its use of Duraplast bodywork, but under the this new skin the car was basically an IFA F8.

Raw Duraplast panel with the cotton tailings still attached. Despite ridiculous modern claims that the Trabant is made of cardboard or other such rubbish, Duraplast is an amazing product that creatively uses two waste products - cotton waste and a phenolic resin byproduct of the chemical dying industry - to produce something entirely new and useful. Duraplast is somewhat similar to carbon fibre these days.

The golden age of the East German workers paradise was the 1970s. At this point East Germany could feel it had almost reached the same level of prosperity as its western counterpart, but things would soon begin to slide. From the 1980s East Germany was in terminal decline and no amount of propaganda could disguise it.

Trabi folding rooftop tent. An amazing option available for East German camping enthusiasts.

Trabant P60

A diorama of the famous Trabi breaking through the Berlin Wall.

I think the first Trabants are the best looking. They are handsome budget cars for the period, much like their western contempories, such as the Goggomobil or NSU Prinz.

Trabant P50. Early models sometime featured two-tone paintwork and chrome trim.

Trabant P60 kombi. The new P60 model toned down the paint and trim a little.

The classic Trabant - the Trabant 601

Trabant 601

From newest to oldest. The Trabant 1.1 featured a Volkswagen Polo engine.

Trabant kubel was the military version of the Trabant.

One of Trabant's many stillborn models. The designers at Sachsenring constantly attempted to replace the Trabant with a more modern design but as this would require retooling the factory, the management always refused to fund it.

IFA sign

Exploded Trabants

Flying Trabant

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