A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Thus avers Juliet in Shakespeare's tale of doomed love. Of course Juliet never had to drive a car like today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Wartburg, which, with its two-stoke engine, likely isn't very sweet smelling. That's okay though, as long as its price doesn't stink.
These days cars and trucks are coming with all sorts of 6, 7, 8, and even 9-speed transmissions. Back in the day, they had to make do with far less, and someone can experience that less-shifty past with yesterday's 1968 Corvette convertible. They wouldn't have to feel bad about it either as its price won a narrow 53% victory.
Speaking of victory, back in the '80s we beat back the scourge of Communism, won the cold war, and had everybody doing the 'Reagan' on dance floors across the nation. It was a glorious time, hallelujah. One of the results of that capitalist beat-down was the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany.
Like Darwin setting foot on the Galápagos islands and finding all those weird-ass finches, the end of the
Mods vs Rockers commies vs. everybody else in Germany allowed people in the West to see all the odd accoutrements of communist life. That included cars like the Trabant and another of which we have an example today, the Wartburg.
This Wartburg 353W is said to be licensed as a 1977, but owing to its nose - and the seller's own admission - it's likely a later model. Wartburg was a German auto maker from the town of Eisenach, where in 1898 Automobilwerk Eisenach produced the Wartburgwagon. That name was taken from the Wartburg Castle which overlooks the town and has a weird name. St George, the patron saint of Eisenach, was once the brand's mascot.
From the '50s the company built tidy offerings - you can see a quite beautiful one here - that featured front wheel drive and a two-stroke triple. That format was cutting edge when the Cold War raged, but by the time this 353 was built - whenever that was - it was kind of quaint.
While never officially imported here, the seller notes that this 353 presently has a clean title and should be able to be licensed in most states - California being a notable exception. He also says the paint is original and that both the outside and the inside of this 66,000-miler are in pretty good shape. It should also be noted that the raised pedals and almost completely flat floor are awesome.
Mechanically, it also seems to be sound. That's good as sourcing parts for the two-stroke and any of the other mechanical elements may be tougher than trying to get half of Germany back behind the iron curtain. Seriously, where the hell do you get minty green fan belts? The Wartburg factory closed down in 1991, and asking for Wartburg parts at Pep Boys will get you nothing more than blank stares and giggles.
The present owner is likely a good source for future parts connections as he seems to be dialed into the Commie car scene. That's because he claims that the reason for the Wartburg's sale is to fund the restoration of his Trabant, a car originally made from army-ration crackers and toxic glue and a central cause of communism failing in East Germany.
We might want to help him with his effort, and to that end we'll need to say whether or not he has set a proper price. The asking for this Wartburg is $4,500, and for that you get an interesting car with a crazy-funny name. What's your take on that funny name for that much cash? Is $4,500 a deal for this 353W? Or, does that seem too rich for this Wartburg's neighborhood?
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