I haven't drove mine in over a week, mainly because it's been so damn hot.
I sweat it out some times. ex. Today
Northwest Indiana got a good dose of Trabant in the last two days. Unfortunately, one fellow who doesn't know how to drive felt compelled to honk at me to make sure I noticed. Naturally, he thinks I did something wrong. In a Trabant those reprieved things stand out. Jealous much?
How often does get Comrade Trabi get out?
Well, let's just say the Chicago area is well fortified with Duroplast Residue, an essential ingredient of any city defense against Ancient Mayans.
Yesterday, on my way to a small local concert*, I was stuck in the famous Chicago Traffic for 2 hours or so.
For about an hour of that, I was following a car with two curious youngsters in the back seat. They took plenty of Trabi pix.
Comrade Trabi gleefully blinked various lights and beeped occasionally in reply. They will probably remember that "funny little car" for awhile
On a side note, my bumper sticker on the back window has faded.
So, it's time for a new one.
How 'bout "You just got passed by a 2-cylinder COMMUNIST Car driven by a girl" ?
It might get a laugh or two or maybe some new bullet holes, if I ever passed anyone that is.
* a small local concert featuring fine music glorifying honest work with songs like:
I bet that was fun. Thanks for the song.
I haven't driven mine much since the brakes crapped out back in October. Then the issues I had with the carburator. With my limited time it has taken me forever to get this far.
Now the weather has turned nasty and I don't want to get it out on the roads. Nor do I want to have any potentional breakdowns in the dark or while it's raining. Like the other day.
I was going on a test drive, testing that 28 H1-1 carb I rebuilt and all seemed fine until I hit 60 mph on the highway then the engine started to misfire/sputter and loose speed. I made a left hand turn at an intersection while two police cars watched me struggle across the highway through a red light. Actually it was yellow when I started out but the car was moving so slow, the light turned red halfway through the intersection before I had a chance to make it. They must have felt sorry for me because they never turned around to come back to write me a ticket! Although the red light camera may have caught me..
I thought it was the carb and was trying to make it home but couldn't generate enough power to make it up the hill. Everytime I would let out on the clutch, the engine would try to stall. The engine must have been trying to run on one cylinder. So I was forced to coast backwards and into an apartment complex and pop the hood.
Luckily as soon as I started looking around, the first thing I noticed was the cap that covers the breaker plate had come loose and must have been shorting out the ignition system! I pulled the cap off and drove on home and it seemed to be fine. So I bent the arm inward a bit to make a tighter fit.
Anyone ever had that happen to them before?
I thinking about replacing the cover with one of those vinyl caps and a hose clamp like the black one shown below:
That way it would be less likely to fall off or water getting into the ignition system if I were to hit a large mud puddle.
I may have to make my own out of Plasti-Dip if I can't find the correct size.
I was hoping to have all the bugs worked out and have the car painted last winter. Then hoped I would get all the bugs sorted out last summer and start prepping it for paint this winter (like removing the fenders and quaterpanels to fix any rust) but that doesn't seem to be happening either!
Daily. It's my primary transportation to work.
In fact, just this week, I was driving through our town and passed an old Hungarian couple. The woman started hitting her husband and pointing at my car. She kept on until they both stopped and he looked and saw my car. Pretty funny. Yeah, my Trabant stands out.
I drive mine to work five days a week, 8 miles each way.
Yeah , it's amazing the people you run into when driving a Trabant, especially in the United States.
I was pulling off one highway onto another one one day and while waiting for the light to change this Jetta pulls up behind me with an Albanian number plate. The guy was grinning ear to earm pointing and turning his head telling his wife something. So I pulled out onto highway and was cruising in the middle lane and the guy just trails me for about 3 miles in the far righthand lane still grinning. I proceded to turn off to Long John Silvers thinking he was going to stop and ask me about my car but he kept on going.
Then there is this one guy who I believe to be from the Czech Republic (based on his number plate, Czech guy or something) who I pass on the way to work who flashes his lights at me.
And of course I always run into Germans who strike up a conversion with me about my car. Seems most of them around here were originally born in the DDR. I was at an air cooled VW show and ran into this lady who was from the DDR and was so suprised to see a Trabant in East Tennessee. She said it made her day!
I like those kind of laws by the way, "yeah, I do drive my antique car occasionally, like zero to three times a day mostly.. usually just from 8:30 to 9:00 or from 18:00 to 18:30, not really any more than that." Mine was supposed to be a daily driver, and I would have driven it daily, only unfortunately I had to choose between it and the '89 Chevrolet Camaro that is now my daily, only drive it occasionally though quite some days I don't even drive it..! Like most weekend days.. or when I've got a day off (don't work on wednesday) or when I decide to take the moped for reasons like miles per gallon or something else.
Haha, that's pretty cool by the way, hearing about friends of the IFA in the U.S.A.!
Amazing, even here in the Netherlands I would always get so much comments and conversation, but then here a lot of people recognize the car and those who don't (usually younger folks) still think it's pretty special as well!
My sister was told about the car in German class, and guess what she said about knowing them and knowing someone who has one (had mine at the time, to be perfect honest I still very much miss the car)!
'89 Chevrolet Camaro? I bet that's a hoot in the Netherlands! I can imagine trying to find a place to park it. Just trying to find a parking space for my 68 Ford with manual steering is hard enough these days. I usually just park as far away from other cars as possible.
I've been to other European countries and just trying to find a spot to part a Ford Fiesta seems like a challange. I saw a Chevy Surburban in France and thought I bet people hates that guy having to take up two standard size parallel parking spaces!
They started selling the Smart Car over here a few years ago. Americans could not understand how something this small doesn't get any better gas mileage than it does would be worth buying. I try to explain to them that over in Europe the car's size is what makes it appealing. Here in my hometown of Kingsport Tennessee most businesses have large parking lots so it's not difficult to find a place to park, you might just have to walk 1000+ feet in the pouring rain.
So around here having to drive something that small is not nessessary but in larger cities like New York and Philadelphia which the buildings and streets were built before cars were even invented, I'd probably drive a Smart car if I had to.
I drive it 25 km to work, and 25 km back again everyday. + all the loose ends. I orderen a new rebuilt engine from trabantwelt yesterday, so i can get it back on the road after it started feeding on crankshaft bearings...
Then i have to live with the useless fiat, that cuts out when doing 140 kmh for more than 2 km, and has to get at least 3 km away from home before the wipers work, wont start when it is hot, and turns on the engine fault light that no one knows what means whithout a computer, and the fact that going down to second gear when making a turn, is simply not an option due to worn syncro's.
I wont put any money other than fuel in it, and if it breaks down to where it wont drive, i will get rid of it, and find a vw golf mk2 as spare car.
I always thought that Smarts were funny, especially the way they could be parked (I am actually featuring one on my website, bear with me the website is not done yet though if you do decide to take a look), wouldn't even want to be seen dead in one though (Dutch saying ;P). I have no problem finding parking -space-, the real struggle is reverse parking that B-hind.. it was often found next to my father's Ford Mondeo on his driveway, and was about just as long, and a Ford Mondeo really is an European-sized family car. It looks long, but in reality it isn't all that long, the fact that the roof is so low and the shape of the entire car is kind of deceiving regarding that.
Edit: I guess what you are saying mostly applies to larger urban environments, like in Amsterdam maybe, finding parking space is a b**** in Eindhoven (city next to where I live) anyways but paid parking does tend to offer enough space (for regular-sized vehicles anyways, don't think my Camaro is really an exception).
Edit2: Camaro's are really rare around here though, not originally sold here through regular means, and are often very poorly maintained due to lack of parts and specific knowledge (since everything is a little different on American cars, people tend to blame them for being poorly designed or such since it does not match their experience, for me interestingly enough it has sometimes been kind of the other way around).
So people are like "oh, it must be very heavy" my car weighs around 1500kg, that is 3300lbs including all of the modern very advanced for it's time and ahead of the rest 80's GM technology. Or "American? Jeeez, it must be very thirsty car!" my car, with a very cheap +-28 years old block I put in myself without doing anything but replacing the freeze plugs and flushing the coolant system, runs 20mpg or up.. not bad for a sportscar, I don't see many other 'working man's' sportscars topping that by a bunch.
"It's so old, and so American, it must be falling apart more by the meter!" ever since I put in the new engine (old engine valves were destroyed by previous owner who was apparently insanely brutal on them, e.g. pedal to the metal everytime with a cold engine) and a new battery it has never let me down or gone bad on me, it's always run smoothly as long as I keep on filling the fuel tank and checking the fluid levels regularly. Not many cars in such a condition can say that.. American cars were build significantly tough, unlike some others. Some trivial things may have popped up here and there like interior lighting acting up, but all in all she's a driver all right.
To be honest, all of these prejudices about American cars can bite a specific lower part of the back of my body, it doesn't really infuriate me but it can be extremely annoying sometimes what people assume or how they think it's so much worse than a modern car just because it's 25 years old.. or that it is a piece of junk or whatever, because it is certainly not, American automotive engineering was far ahead of it's time back then and even now this car is not to be messed with.
Yeah American cars are really not that bad. Just like anything, if you don't abuse it and and maintain it, they will last 30 years or more.
The only thing I can say bad about American cars is years ago it took awhile for them to catch up with the rest of the world on certain things. For example back in the 1980s, most American cars were still using carburetors when the Europeans were using Bosch electronic fuel injection.
Or four wheel disc brakes when American cars still had rear drum brakes. Although drum brakes work well on the rear. Just not every good on the front!
I've always leaned more toward Fords than General motors products. I heard that the 2014 Ford Mustang was the first V8 (5.0 liter) engine to get 30 mph on the highway! I used to have a 2008 4.7 liter that got around 25 mpg on the highway. That's not much less than my Subaru 2.5 liter.
I've worked on Fiats for about 20 years and they come easy to me. But figuring out my Trabant has been a challange. Because it's nothing like I have ever worked on. The ignition system and the brakes really stumped me. Especially the brakes since there is basically nothing symmetrical about the parts.
The carburetor not so much because the early style is no different than one found on a 1 cylinder lawnmower engine and I've worked on tons of them.
The trabi still makes me wonder how it is even possible to work, being so dead simple, if you just make sure all the parts in the brakesystem are where they should be.
the ford escort my parents had some time ago had about 500 moving parts per. rear wheel, same with the punto. those things wont go straight, which the MOT guy here wants it to...
Trabant brakes will go staight for the first week, and after that they are all over the place, but i have got used to that. just need to rbuild them before MOT.
disc brakes will cause dirty rims, so those are useless also.
My trabi just drived 20 km. without a crankshaft bearing. any other car would have blown up long before due to lack of oil pressure. The trabi could have driven way further if it had not ruined the end seal, causing bad compression one one cylinder. it ran just fine, though with a wierd noise.
The brakes on mine were doing all sorts of weird things. They would pull to the right under hard braking until I got them warmed up. Then might pull to the left if the weather was below freezing!
You will love having new brakes!
The brakes on a Trabant are a real pain to service. The most difficult car I've ever worked on when the brakes are concerned. Mainly because the parts are not symetrical. Well most brake parts are not but they are obvious.
I'd get the "deluxe" kit from TrabantWelt.
That takes the guess work out of what parts you need. Except for drums. Mine appeared to be in good shape so I just roughed them up with 60 grit sandpaper.
Some thoughts on American cars from someone that used to work on them for a living....
From the mid '50s onward, American cars for the most part were designed around Profit.
Many of the cars up to this era had sound design and construction and could outlast their successors.
The cars became progressively cheaper and cheaper to manufacture, with lots of unnecessary stuff to increase sales.
Some of the factors....
America is a big country, with many different climates and wildly varying road conditions as well as customer expectation. To avoid a bad reputation caused by early failure, the cars had to be tough.
The new car buying cycle was very short in the 50s and 60s. Americans, always seeking a bargain, tended to choose cars based on price and superficial junk like power accessories, large engines, paint color or whatever fad struck their fancy.
This drove the more sound automakers like Packard and Studebaker out of business.
So, as time went on, stuff that makes the car serviceable and long lasting disappeared. Stuff like durable frame paint, drain plugs on transmissions and differentials, grease fittings, started being left off to save a penny here and there. Sharp metal edges stopped being dressed in places the driver and passengers would not normally touch, a hazard to mechanics to this day. Motor design adopted the policy of non-sustainable maximum power, because it's cheaper to build a 200hp motor that can only sustain 100hp rather than an honest 200. They got away with this because very few people drive at maximum power!
So, you ended up with cars made to sell. Stylish, grossly overpowered, full of gadgets and tough enough to last through the buying cycle, but not very safe and lots of pollution. So starting in the late 60s the government steps in and mandates safety and pollution control. To accomplish these things and keep the price down, serious issues arose.
Cars reflect the culture that produces them.
The honest simplicity of a Trabi says more about GDR / soviet culture than a mountain of propaganda.
I'm pretty comfortable with the brake system...Dead simple, IMO one of the easiest cars I've worked on in regards to brakes. One you wrap your mind around the engineering of them they make a alot of sense and are dead simple. Just my opinion
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