For many years, I found myself oddly fascinated with the smoke churning racing cardboard, known commonly as the Trabant. Since seeing them roam the streets of Warsaw and Bucharest, my fascination only grew stronger. Just why was a young man who grew up in London obsessed with these East German nightmares? God only knows!
Having recently returned to the UK after a couple of years working in Barcelona, I found myself training to become a Primary Teacher. It was during this time that my mind wondered to eBay. Amongst the flurry of tempting classified ads did I happen upon a mid-80’s Trabant 601 Kombi, in the typical Trabi blue.
As if this wouldn’t appear tempting enough, it showed up in the town I grew up in as a child. With about five seconds of serious thought, I had emailed the seller and found myself viewing it in a garage in Beckenham. Dominic, the seller, had formed quite the collection of these two-stroke symbols of oppression/freedom. He certainly came across as genuine and highly knowledgeable of these beasts.
As lady luck would let me have it (or not have it), the auction was narrowly won by an elderly gentleman who had arrived from Gloucestershire with trailer in tow. Just as my own Berlin wall crumbled, seemingly liberating myself from the tyranny of simply dreaming of Trabi ownership, the Stasi of shite luck bundled me into their metaphorical Wartburg and sent me packing back to square one.
Fear not though, as the story does not end here. The very next morning, I received a call from Dominic to offer me the chance to purchase another one of his collection. To say I was over the moon was a gross understatement, picture the present that you always wanted as a child. You yearned for it for every waking hour, but tainted with the disbelief that you will never behold its presence. Fast forward to Christmas morning and it’s sat underneath the tree. This was the joy I felt to be offered my very own Trabi.
Back to Beckenham, where I was now viewing a saloon in blue. Thankfully, this was the exact model I was looking for, in the desired colour. Huzza!
The beast in question was a 1990 Trabant 601S in blue with a white roof. Condition was overall quite solid, albeit shabby and in need of repair. I could tell right away that it needed a new battery, tyres, brakes and enough wax to supply Madame Tussauds for the next millenium.
“The paintwork has the just escaped the Berlin Wall look”
– Dominic (seller).
A price was agreed, the date arranged for delivery and all of my social media outlets were swamped by my joyous proclamations that I had procured the item which I had oh so long desired. Next was the agonising wait for delivery…
by Mike Armstrong