The Commies Were Serious About Selling Trabants To The West

In the summer of 2011, I was having a breakfast with my English friends at a posh restaurant on the bank of the Danube, and we started an argument about cars. That wasn't surprising, since after finishing our coffees, we were about to go on short road trip to Etyek, a wine region not far from Budapest. Two cars were… » 1/21/13 12:00pm 1/21/13 12:00pm

Weed-Whacker In a Cardboard Box: NPR Drives The Trabant

You know those people whose Volvos have every single radio preset set to National Public Radio? So if you happen to be riding with them (at 4 MPH below the speed limit) you'll know in no uncertain terms that they never listen to anything, you know, unenlightened? Well, maybe this little story about aficionados of… » 11/19/07 9:30am 11/19/07 9:30am

Ich Bin Ein Wartburg: History Of The Eisenach Wonder

We're quick to make fun of the Wartburg, but in fact the plastic-bodied two-stroke emblem of Warsaw Pact automotive misery was the descendant of an interesting lineage stretching back to the 1890s. The tale of the Wartburg starts with the mighty car-building prowess of Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG, then twists and turns… » 7/10/07 3:45pm 7/10/07 3:45pm

Inspiration From the Bodega: More Trabantamino!

We didn't see his face. From the back, we would judge he was in his mid-to-early '60s. But there he was, standing there at the other cash register at the bodega, silver-gray buzzcut, jeans, tennies and a satin jacket that read, "The Heartbeat of America. Chevrolet." Below that? The joyous El Camino logo embroidered… » 1/31/07 4:00pm 1/31/07 4:00pm

Melkus Sports Car Update: Coming in 2008?

The blokes at Motor Authority bring us an update on the new generation of Melkus sports cars in the works, a story first reported earlier this year. Back in the days of Checkpoint Charlie, when Eastern Bloc "people's cars" were made of papier m ch and powered by tractor engines, East German car builder Heinz Melkus… » 10/09/06 11:39am 10/09/06 11:39am

East Germany Bound and Down: Wartburg-Powered Melkus Sports Cars Set for Revival

The practice of specialty carbuilders reviving sports-car names of old has taken a turn for the East. The family of Heinz Melkus — who back in Iron Curtain days built sports cars powered by the gnarly three-cylinder, two-stroke engines of the people's Wartburg line — has a plan to build a new version of the RS1000, a… » 3/17/06 6:54am 3/17/06 6:54am