I’ve been carrying out a thought experiment.

Could I, rather than buying something newer and shinier designed and made in this century, go back instead? Specifically, back to something like this.

Illustration for article titled Could the way forward be backwards?

There are pros and cons.


Exempt from emissions requirements (by way of a concession made on German reunification)

Duroplast body panels, so no rust

Engine has only five moving parts, so not much to go wrong. The five parts are two pistons, two rods and one crank. No pumps because no water pump (no water), no fuel pump (gravity is your friend) and no oil pump (because total loss lubrication)


It’s never going to need antifreeze

Most things can be fixed with a hammer, a screwdriver or a vice grip

You can change the engine with the above tools and you won’t need a hoist. Back in the day carrying a spare (or two!) around with you was a thing


Most parts still available

Unaffected by airbag recall

Doesn’t use much fuel

Not going to fall in value if you look after it


Quite a few, sadly

Outer panels don’t rust, but everything structural is steel. Steel rusts away happily


Maximum recommended speed is 80 kmh. You get a bit more but at the cost of engine life

Not the safest thing to crash in, although somebody did a crash test and found it not much worse than other cars of the era


The fuel tank sits on top of the engine. Frontal impacts are contra indicated

It’s a two stroke. You need to calculate and add oil whenever you buy fuel

It’s a tad noisy under what passes for acceleration

So there you have it. Forwards may be backwards.

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