One thing I love about spring in Chicago: the cool and unusual cars come out of the woodwork – or their owners garages, as the case may be.
Far, far away from its East German home, this Trabant 601 was snapped on Halsted north of 33rd St. in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
A Trabant is an extremely rare sight in the United States even at car shows. To see one being used as a daily driver on the streets of Chicago is unheard of.
It looks something like an old Austin Mini with tailfins and a trunk, and was introduced two years before, in 1957. The similarities end there. It’s powered by a 600cc two-stroke engine, to which a gas/oil mixture must continually be added. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and its maker’s takeover by Volkswagen, it had a 1L 4-stroke 4-cylinder until the end of production in 1991 — 3.1 million were built over its lifetime.
Despite its 1100 lb. curb weight, it could carry 2000 lb of passengers and cargo. 21 seconds 0-60. It has something of a kinship with my Fiero; the body panels are made of Duroplast: a hard plastic made of recycled cotton fibers and phenol resins from the East German die industry.
This car was legendary for the extremely long wait times (stretching to years) owners endured for delivery. And I thought 6 months was an eternity to wait for the Fiero.
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