TO THE EDITOR:
As the owner of a Trabant 601, I am writing in defense of the maligned East German car mentioned in "Berlin's new path" (Nov. 11). Pete Bigelow's quip suggesting the car would "fall to shambles at a stoplight" is without merit (mostly). Backward by today's standards, the Trabant was advanced for its time.
It was designed with composite body panels fastened to a steel skeleton. General Motors did something similar 25 years later with the Pontiac Fiero and was praised by the industry and the media. The Trabant's Duroplast panels were constructed with waste fibers from the East German textile industry. That would be called "sustainability" today. The car also uses transverse leaf springs front and rear, which not only suspend it, but serve as upper control arms, thus saving weight and material. AC used a similar design in its sports cars.
Indeed, not unlike firearms designed by Kalashnikov and aircraft designed by Mikoyan-Gurevich, the Trabant 601 is a great example of what engineers behind the Iron Curtain achieved when faced with scarce resources.
I have also found my Trabi to be quite reliable ... so long as I remember to clear the vent hole in the top of the fuel cap to keep the gravity fuel system operating. I have learned to carry a pin.
MARTIN PETERS, Kennesaw, Ga. The writer is a former automotive journalist and industry public relations manager.