The first Trabant, the ubiquitous vehicle that came to symbolize Communist East Germany, rolls off an assembly line in Zwickau on Nov. 7, 1957.
The small, boxy car, designed as the Communist answer to the Volkswagen Beetle, was full of quirks.
It had a recycled plastic body, and consumers couldn’t pick the color.
Its two-cylinder, two-stroke engine produced 26 hp and belched blue smoke with an odor of mixed gas and oil. The top speed was 62 mph.
Created by Werner Lang, a mechanical engineer, the car’s name had Slavic origins and meant a celestial body or satellite. The Soviet Sputnik satellite also appeared in 1957.
With few options available, East Germans were willing to wait a decade to buy one.
More than 2.2 million copies of the Trabant 601, the most common model, were built between 1964 and the mid-1980s.
Once the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Eastern Bloc consumers were introduced to the cars of Western Europe.
Not surprisingly, the car’s demise didn’t take long. The last Trabant rolled off the line in Zwickau, Germany, on April 30, 1991.