November 29, 2008
You can now rent a 1960s Trabant in Berlin to tour the city through the company Trabi Safari (www.trabi-safari.de). For the uninitiated, the Trabant was the East German-produced automotive marvel that’s about the size of a matchbox car and has a 26HP engine.
“The good news is that the Trabant is twice as powerful as a Sears Craftsman two-stage snow blower; the bad news is that it’s twice as loud. It is also not easy to shift.
In fact, not much is easy on a Trabant. The wheel wells could hide pregnant bulldogs. Two knobs the size of Captain Kangaroo’s buttons control the heat and the windshield wipers, which are slower than a stretching class on a senior citizens’ cruise. The tachometer is a series of green and yellow lights with no numbers. The needle on the speedometer (which optimistically goes to 75 m.p.h.) bounces as if it’s auditioning for the Richter scale.
The column-mounted manual shift is a puzzle. It is moved down for first and up for second, then a return to neutral to push in the lever and then down again for third and up for fourth. For reverse, it’s a return-to-neutral-and-push-all-the-way-in-and-down maneuver.
There is no fuel gauge.”
That pretty much sums it up. Our question is: how on God’s green Earth do these things GET INSURED??