East German car-maker made up from an ensemble
of manufacturers that found themselves on the
wrong side of the Iron Curtain following the
war. Started out producing cheap (but not so
cheerful) two cylinder air-cooled
based on pre-war DKW designs under the brand "IFA",
a national group that featured all the automotive
and motorcycle brands in the German Democratic
Production would grow with the
F9 model, it now sporting an extra cylinder (3
in all), and being manufactured in EIsenach;
the three-cylinder engines would also be used
in Wartburgs. Cars manufactured from the Zwickau
facility became known as AWZ (Auto-Werke Zwickau),
manufacturing the AWZ P70 from 1955, a model
that would become the base for later “Trabant” iterations.
You get an idea as to the quality of vehicle
when you learn that the P stood for Plastic,
and the 70 for its 700cc displacement.
The “Duroplast” turned
out to be anything but, the ravages of time being
evident in a matter of months, let alone years.
In 1957 the Trabant P50 would be released, shortly
after the AWZ name abandoned in favour of Trabant.
Next came the P601, a car that made the bicycle
look complex. No valves, no camshaft, no timing
belt (as the engine was a two stroke), no oil
pump, no water pump, no radiator
– at least
the gearbox now sported four speeds, and surprisingly
there was an electronic ignition. The marque
(somehow that word does not seem appropriate)
now boasts a huge following of devotees who fell
in love with the foibles of a car that set the
bar so low, it made the notion of walking through
sleet and snow strangely appealing.