A lot of people will be surprised by this car. Not so much at first glance, although metallic Trabants are not very common. More on the first listen, because they don’t hear the typical sound. So what is the most modern Trabant with a four-stroke engine?

Trabant is a duroplastic legend with a two-stroke “farting” two-cylinder. Or not, if you’re lucky and drive a Trabant 1.1. It was the successor to the classic two-stroke models and arrived on the market in 1990. It was supposed to be imported to us, but the Czechs at that time wanted used Western cars, not new Trabants. And not only the Czechs, which broke the neck of the car and actually the entire car company.

Photo: Vlastimil Vainar

Metallics and a differently shaped metal hood are the first visual hints of the newer version of the Trabant.

The bodywork of the Trabant 1.1 is also different. You probably didn’t even notice it at first glance, but the Trabant is partly metal. The metal hood is new, only slightly differently shaped. But also the mask or period covers for the front lights, which seem to have fallen out of a tuning catalog, are also different. The headlights are replaced with pieces with clear parabolas. The taillights are also new with integrated fog lights and reversing lights. The automaker originally planned a much larger modernization, but in the end was satisfied with only minor modifications to the existing bodywork.

Modernization, it was small cautious progress within the limits of a centrally planned economy

The interior was also modified, where there is a new instrument panel and a black leatherette ceiling. Also, the gearshift is now on the floor in a modern way and there is a small rise leading to the lever, otherwise the floor is still flat. But some features are fascinating, such as the heated rear window of the station wagon, which has become standard equipment. Until then, only De Luxe station wagons manufactured after 1986 or owners who paid extra for it had it. The car still has a great view in all directions, there is more space in the back thanks to the shifted bench than in the sedan, and the position behind the wheel still seems a bit uncomfortable to me, but that could be said about all Trabants.

Photo: Vlastimil Vainar

The Volkswagen four-stroke engine makes the Trabant a different car.

The name unequivocally indicates the volume of the water-cooled four-stroke four-cylinder, which Volkswagen installed as standard in the small Polo model. By the way, its cooler is of Czechoslovak manufacture. In the Trabant, it is connected to a manual four-speed gearbox. Due to the dimensions of the engine, the tank no longer fit under the hood, so it is under the floor of the luggage compartment. The Trabant has a lower ground clearance and consumption of around six litres. The engine reaches 54 horsepower, which is more than double the two-stroke version. Drivers will be pleased with easy and pleasant steering and a well-tuned chassis with MacPherson struts at the front, as well as better disc brakes. If I hadn’t looked at that hood with the raised moldings for the lights, I wouldn’t have believed that I was sitting in a Trabant, and not even in a Western Opel Corsa.

Modernization did not help, interest in the Trabant came only a few years after the end of its production

As I mentioned before, there was practically no interest in the Trabant 1.1. In April 1991, the last piece comes off the strip in Zwickau. A total of 27,000 sedans and 10,000 station wagons with a four-stroke engine were produced. The fate of the five hundred station wagons that arrived in Turkey was interesting, but no one took them there. Entrepreneurs seized the opportunity after their discovery, painted them in metallic varnishes, labeled them as a limited Last Edition and sold them in 1996 for an astronomical 10,000 marks. You will be surprised, but this thirty-year-old car with a fifteen-year-old engine still sold. The Trabant 1.1 is objectively not a bad car, it was just created too late, so it could not survive much longer after the demise of the GDR.

Photo: Vlastimil Vainar

East German camping kit – Trabant 1.1 and QEK Junior caravan.

It would seem that the blue metallic station wagon is one of the examples of this Last Edition, according to the production number. This Universal body came to Czechoslovakia as a purchase of the Institute of Coatings. Undercarriage coatings were tested on it and then it was to be destroyed. Instead, it was bought by a private mechanic who also got a four-stroke engine and put the whole car into operation. After a break with another owner, the vehicle came to Pilsen and is now one of the exhibits of the Pilsen Two-Stroke Tales Museum, which has a fairly complete collection of East German cars and where you can also see the blue station wagon.

A little about the QEK Junior caravan

The QEK Junior camper trailer from East Germany is also posing for us in the photos. This too is one of the museum’s exhibits and was built in 1988. It offers sleeping accommodation for up to four occupants when you fold down the large rear seating. There are cupboards and a small kitchen in the front. Thanks to the fact that the floor is very low in this part, even below the level of the supporting frame, and also thanks to the lifting part of the roof, it is possible to stand upright here. The pop-up roof is also equipped with a mosquito net to prevent pesky insects from flying inside. It is ideal for ventilation, as the side windows are unfortunately not openable.

Photo: Vlastimil Vainar

In person, the QEK Junior caravan seems surprisingly spacious.

The trailer also had an original tent vestibule with a larger floor plan, which increases the living space even more when camping. The trailer weighs 385 kilograms and is therefore lighter than the well-known Polish Niewiadow N126 caravans from that time. The maximum for Trabants is 400 kilograms, so the QEK fits nicely within the limit. In addition, its axle is braked by an overrun brake, so the light Trabant does not push the caravan down the hill.

Both exhibits and many others can be viewed at the museum. Of course, there are also the classic Trabant 601, including the military Kübelwagen, but also the older 600 models or their predecessor, the AWZ P70. Of course, other East German legends of the Wartburg brand are also represented here – models 311, 353 and four-stroke 1.3. Older cars are represented by DKW F7 and IFA F9, and utility vehicles by Barkas and Framo flatbeds.

If you hurry up with your visit, you can also admire a beautiful exhibition of paintings by Stanislav Tyml, who specializes in drawings of old cars and can depict them very realistically.