AWZ Trabant P601
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
In 1964 AWZ released the most famous of the Trabants, the P601. This new car had a 594 cc, 26 bhp engine naturally enough derived from the P50.
One should not expect too much in the way of innovation when detailing new models of Trabant, however this engine did use new cylinders, new cylinder-heads and a modified exhaust
We may well laugh at the shape of the P601 by today's standards, but for 1964 it appeared in tune with other manufacturers. Most importantly for it's Eastern European owners, it was both easy to repair and relatively easy to live with.
The Trabant was reportedly the butt of many jokes of the day, but remained the mainstay of family transportation and the epitome of socialism. Despite the shortcomings of the car, it remained highly sought after.
If you wanted one, you didn't simply walk into your local Trabant dealer. Instead, you "applied" for the car, and in some cases the waiting list was 14 years!
East Europeans could opt for larger more expensive cars, such as the Wartburg's of the day, but it was the humble Trabant that was in financial reach of most, and this ensured the car was the most common sight on the (very un-congested) roads.
In an attempt to improve performance, many owners tried to convert their two-stroke into a four-stroke, long before the Trabant 1.1 with a Polo engine debuted.
The most popular engine option was that derived from the Fiat 128, this model arguably the most collectable and sought after of the P601's today.
The 1.1 lived a short life in the midst of the changing regim�s. More square (if that was possible), and considerably more robust, this was the last of the line for the Trabant.
More than 3 million Trabants were constructed, until production stopped in 1991, two years after the Berlin wall came down. After the car first motored into the western consciousness following the fall of the wall many treated it as a joke, although the car soon developed a certain cult status.
Irish rock band U2 helped in all this, using the car in videos during the band's Zoo TV tour in the 90s. Bono and co even took to the stage with used Trabants hanging above them, the headlights shining down onto the band. Many of the Trabants on the road in Eastern Europe today have been converted into open-top sports cars or vans.