The Trabant was produced by East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in Zwickau, Saxony. It was the most common vehicle in East Germany, and was also exported to countries both inside and outside the Communist bloc. The main selling points were that it had room for four adults and luggage, and was compact, light and durable. The car has come to be regarded with affection as a symbol of the more positive sides of East Germany and of the fall of Communism as many East Germans streamed into West Germany in their Trabants after the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Trabant means 'fellow traveler' (Satellite) in German. The engine is a 600cc, 36.31 cubic-inch, inline 2-cylinder two-stroke of 23 horsepower.
The Microcar became very popular in Post War Europe where a need arose for inexpensive transportation that was rugged, durable, had adequate seating, and could be sold to the masses. Motorcycles and mopeds filled part of the demand, while microcars picked-up where they left off, adding a bit more comfort, convenience, and safety.
Prior to 1957, the company produced cars under the name of AWZ (Auto-Werke Zwickau). In 1957, the named was switched to Trabant and their first model was the P50 model, also known as the Trabant 500. Originally, the P50 was to be a covered motorbike with the addition of a third wheel. As the final sketches were nearing completion, the project took a new direction, growing a fourth wheel.
The Trabant 500 (P50) featured a 500cc engine; the next iteration was the 600 which had an enlarged engine now displacing 600cc. The exterior also received mild updates. Production of this version continued until 1964 when it was replaced by the 601. By this point, Trabant had produced over 132,000 micro-cars.By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2008