I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague

Art by Jason Torchinsky
Art by Jason Torchinsky

Today I happened upon one of the coolest displays of automotive history I’ve ever seen: An absolutely tiny Trabant museum sitting on the second floor of a vehicle inspection shop near Prague in the Czech Republic. Here’s a look inside the amazing little gem.

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Last week I drove from Germany to the Czech Republic to visit the beautiful city of Prague with my mom. On the way, I spotted a sign for a Trabant museum, and immediately brought my mom’s car to a screeching halt. There was no way we weren’t going to check this out.

But when I followed the sign’s directions, all I saw was the inspection garage you see in the photo above with a little “Trabant Muzeum Motol” logo with an arrow pointing to the left. “There must be another building around the corner,” I figured.

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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague

I figured wrong. Going around the corner, I came across a giant “Trabant Muzeum” sign, and a big Trabi grafted onto the side of the inspection shop. How the heck there could be a Trabi museum in this little shop was a bit of a mystery to me.

Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague

Immediately upon entering, my mom and I brushed our feet on the awesome Trabant floor-mat, bought some tickets at the counter, and were given a guide book. That book included a ridiculously-thorough history of the Trabant, as well as instructions around the museum.

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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague

Those instructions basically entailed: go up the steps. That’s about it. That’s because pretty much the whole museum is on a single floor just above the inspection shop. But don’t for a second think that means this isn’t an amazing and thorough Trabant museum. Because it totally is.

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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague

The walls in the stairwell are covered in Trabant wallpaper, with P50s and the letter S abounding (the “S” standing for the company that built the little “duroplast”-bodiedeconoboxes from the 1960s until the 1990s, Sachsenring).

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At the top of the stairwell is an awesome mural of the assembly line, as well as a case filled with Trabant toys.

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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague

The case of Trabant toys was impressive. This place must have the world’s most complete collection of miniature Trabants:

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Also on the wall in the hallway at the top of the steps were old advertisements and historic photos of Trabis kicking butt in rally races:

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Seriously, how cool are these pictures of Trabant racers? (Answer: extremely):

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But then, after walking through the hallway of Trabant memorabilia, you turn into the main room, which includes this garage scene at the very far end:

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Here’s a closer look:

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In front of that garage scene are a bunch of Trabants, about which the guidebook offers lots of fun details:

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My favorite anecdote in the guidebook dealt with this AWZ P70 Zwickau shown below, the predecessor to the Trabant. Apparently a former owner of this one installed the rear trunk lid himself, because originally, one could only access things in the back through the front doors by folding down the rear seat. That’s kind of bonkers if you think about it.

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Just look at all of these East-German, two-stroke, front-wheel drive sedans stuffed into a little space on the second floor of an inspection shop in the Czech Republic:

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There was even this little cut-down Trabant with a television in front of it to allow you to imagine that you’re driving the 26 horsepower Eastern European wonder.

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And trust me, this simulation of driving an actual Trabant 601 was absolutely incredible, even if you can’t see the giant grin on my face in the photo below:

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Also in that room is this incredible electric motor-powered cutaway of the Trabant’s two-cylinder two-stroke:

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And on the other side of the room from the garage scene, there’s more. Lots more, somehow.

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For one, there’s a racetrack for all of your Trabi-model racing needs:

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Then there’s this gorgeous Trabant 1.1—the last of the Trabi models—built only in 1990 and 1991.

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Plus there’s this Trabant Kueble P601A, which was used to patrol the border between East Germany and West Germany:

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And, of course, there were more toys:

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I could go on and on about this little single-floor museum (okay, technically, there were also some cars on display out front):

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Like, what’s the deal with this Trabi in front of a mural of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing? (A famous painting called My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love, similar to this one, was drawn onto the Berlin wall around 1990):

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Also, check out these little Trabant toys that families could rent out for their children to ride around on!:

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This place is just a gem. A tiny, but surprisingly impressive gem tucked into the second floor of a shop. How the cars got up there, I have no clue. But I’m glad they did.

This quick little one-minute Instagram video pretty much covers the entire Trabant Museum Motol, but you really need to go there to read all the ads, get a close look at the cars and pictures and learn the history of this amazing machine to truly appreciate what these folks have done with such a tiny space.

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So the next time you’re near Prague, don’t drive past that little red inspection station. Check out the Trabant Muzeum Motol built into its second floor. It’s a tiny display filled with tiny East German cars and a whole bunch of tiny versions of those tiny cars. What more could you possible ask for?

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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
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Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague
Illustration for article titled I Just Stumbled Across A Tiny Trabant Museum In Prague

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

porschebago
Porschebago Redux, formerly Mini Mid-life Crisis

Very cool stuff, David. Thanks for posting this.

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and also happens to be where I learned the greatest word in the English language: “defenestration.