On day one of our Transatlantic Outreach Program #TOPStudyTour we were hit with the Trabi during a visit to the Point Alpha Memorial. I have to admit, I didn’t know the Trabi by name when I first saw it. Sure, I had seen them in news footage. But, I didn’t know anything about them. So, if you’re like me and you don’t know what a Trabi is, think clown car meets Smart car.
Trabis average about 360 centimeters. Only the Trabi wasn’t as eco-friendly as a Smart car.
The Trabant (Trabi) was an East German car produced from 1957-1990. Throughout this time there were virtually no changes to the design of this vehicle. They were the typical East German car for those that could afford to purchase one and those willing to wait 10+ years to own one (that’s how long the waiting lists were!). Trabis were made out of Duroplast, a mixture of wood and cotton. Yes, I just said cotton! You’d think they wouldn’t last that long, but they are pretty indestructible.
When the Iron Curtain fell rumor is you could trade a pair of blue jeans for a Trabi. East Germans abandoned Trabis on the streets for Western vehicles. They were incredibly popular with Westerners and today Trabis have achieved a sort of iconic status. Trabis are now the most stolen car in Germany. They are adorable! And a few years ago they were reimagined as an electric car.
I write about object-based learning and the information that can be gained by studying an object all the time on this blog. The Trabi is the perfect object to analyze. Trabis became a symbol for the failure of communism. There are iconic images of traffic jams full of Trabis, East Germans looking to cross over into West Germany after the fall of the wall.
Analyzing the construction and creating a timeline of Trabis would be fascinating too. Here’s some information on the history of the Trabant here.
I am enamored with these cars so I may rent one to drive around Berlin at Trabi-Safari the next time I visit.