Tales of my Trabi #2

For those keeping the score so far, I had been oddly persuaded by myself to consider purchasing an East German Trabant. One impulsive purchase later and I am eagerly waiting by the front door for my special delivery.

I received a message from my transporter stating that the vehicle later to be known as Igor was arriving shortly. Like an excited puppy dog waiting impatiently to go for its daily walk, I stared out of the window with such vigour that it made suburban curtain twitchers look like casual viewers. Low and behold, there it was shrouded by the evening darkness of winter.

Like a stray hound arriving at Battersea Dogs’ Home, the Trabant looked weathered and timid atop the low-loader’s platform. With compliments for my choice of obscure vehicle, we offloaded the rescued Trabi into my driveway. Despite the ┬ádarkness and bitter cold, I still decided to capture this moment on camera, before parading around my flat like I had just returned from the moon and won the Heavyweight Title all in the same day.

What would the daylight bring? Will I still be satisfied with my daft purchase? Would I be tempted to make the walk of shame the next morning and never call back? So without hesitation, I ventured outside to my driveway. There it was, in all of its glory. My gut instinct at this point was that this was the right decision.

“Dare I say it, It’s certainly a lot cooler than a Mini”

– Tom (Transporter)

The daylight certainly highlighted much of the work which required attention prior to my long term goal of terrifying the citizens of Canterbury with plumes of two-stroke smoke. The tyres were indeed perished, the front indicator lens battle scared, panels faded and hand painted in parts, patches of rust in small doses throughout and the general need for some tender loving care and a kiss to make it better.

Amongst the crammed in Aladdin’s Cave of spare parts and soiled carpets, was a wonderful note from the seller. A note which congratulated me on the ownership of this characterful comrade, along with an order form for a complete handbrake kit. To this day, I am eternally grateful for Dominic’s random act of kindness, as will anyone who I choose to park behind on a slight incline.

Without hesitation, I set it upon myself to make my first repair. Armed with a screwdriver, I tackled replacing the broken indicator stalk, which at some point had amputated itself from the column. A casual exchange of swearing and a simple rewiring job later, and my first job was done! Man points earned.

I had been eager to start my Trabi to assess just how buggered the engine was. Whilst we had managed to start it back in Beckenham with a spare battery, the poor thing spluttered after a few seconds and died quietly. One delivery from Varta batteries later and it was time to try for myself. Who knows, maybe the exciting ride on the tow truck and the promise of a new home would appease the little DDR defector.

Battery connect, it was the moment of truth. Fuel tap on, choke pulled out and a turn of the key. It turned over, and in a blaze of glory…nothing happened. Sheisse!

 

Stay tuned for part three next week.

 

by Mike Armstrong

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