Saturday, February 25, 2006

More Consumer Goods from the East Bloc

The Trabant was as ubiquitous in the former East Germany as the VW Beetle on the other side of the wall - mass-produced by the state, and with a design that went more or less unchanged for almost thirty years. The body of the car was made of something called Duroplast as opposed to steel - Duroplast was a plastic/resin/cotton blend (which renders the mural pictured above unlikely, unless it depicts a car smashing through a giant eggshell). It would also take up to 10 years between a worker ordering and receiving one of these. The plant was dependent on heavy state subsidies, so when German reunification happened, demand plummeted and the line ceased production in 1991. You may recognize this car from Wim Wenders films, U2 videos, or U2 videos directed by Wim Wenders.

I saw a rusty looking Trabi parked on the street while strolling in Budapest; it had linoleum kitchen tiles glued to the floor of the car.

Here's a vintage East German TV commercial for the Trabant - I think the announcer is saying the car is fast, robust, able to handle turns nicely, and other exaggerations.

(JohnnyRankin, sie sind ein Prinz)

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