Every day we learn something new, however obscure.

Here’s today’s obscurity.

If you lived in East Germany your motoring choices were essentially a Trabant (if you were one of the proletariat) or a Wartburg (if you were better off). Quite a lot better off in fact as they were three times the price.


Either way you might have been sufficiently behindert to require a car that didn’t need you to have the use of your left leg.

Enter then the Trabi (and Wartburg) Hycomat.

Illustration for article titled Education

It had a Saxomat automatic clutch. Starting and stopping involved a centrifugal clutch so as you accelerated the clutch gradually engaged and off you went. When you needed to change gear you just moved the lever whereupon a microswitch allowed a hydraulic cylinder to release the clutch (or a separate clutch, I haven’t been able to figure out which).

All well and good. Two pedal motoring.

Now here’s the footwell.

Illustration for article titled Education

Three pedals, albeit oddly shaped. Yes, that’s a manual clutch way over on the left. It seems to be on the floor because it’s being held down by the bracket about half way along it.

If you needed to push start your Trabi, or you wanted to park it in gear, or the electromechanical box of tricks had packed up, you pressed the emergency clutch pedal slightly thus releasing it and now you had three pedal motoring.


Now, isn’t that interesting?

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