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Wednesday, August 19

Making a Comeback

People of a certain age who watched the fall of the Berlin Wall will recognize this little car as the Trabant, or Trabi. Seating four adults, the little sedan with the smoky engine was a fixture on East Bloc roads for thirty years.

To hear Wikipedia tell it, refueling the Trabi was ... interesting. You had to open the hood, add gas, then add oil, then shake the car from side to side to mix the two fluids. It got 34 miles per gallon, supposedly. Production ceased in 1990, after 3 million models had been built.

Fast forward.

Cloaked in a roseate glow of nostalgia, people seemed to want the Trabi to come back. While Herpa, a miniature car company in Bavaria, offered a model for about 50,000 euros, another consortium is seeking funding for this:

Der Trabi lebt!

This concept model was unveiled in Leipzig in 2007, and the company hopes to have the first Trabant NTs rolling onto German roads by 2012 (a full-sized concept will be on display at the IAA Frankfurt auto show in September). Now, get this - the car will be an all-electric model, with a range of 250 kilometers between charges.

It also looks a bit sportier than its ancestor.

It's nice to see people trying to take an old symbol and recast it as a better, more modern model.

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