Ways to shorten your life, courtesy of VEB Sachsenring (dec'd)

I had been exploring the possibilities of taking a week’s holiday in the old DDR and while there hiring a Trabant for a day, something which is quite a thing in some places.

There are however drawbacks.

Ways a Trabi can kill you

(1) Death by violent impact. The Trabi was famously made of Duroplast, a material made of cotton waste and various phenols. In fact only the outer panels were Duroplast, the inner structure was steel as so (and note the rust):


As Clarkson once said, speed never killed anybody. Sudden stops are what kills you. Sudden stops in a car whose outer panels have the crash resistance of recycled cotton waste and whose inner panels preceded crumple zones by several decades are contra indicated.

(2) Death by immolation. The Trabi economised on the fitting of a fuel pump by fitting the tank higher than the engine, because gravity is free and fuel pumps less so. The tank therefore had to go here:


Yes, it’s just above the engine. Yes, engines get hot. Yes, petrol has a low flash point. Yes, the battery is just alongside. Get your refuelling wrong and things get very nasty.

(3) Both of the above. There was a fuel tap below the tank to prevent the fuel flooding the engine when stopped. If you crashed the car and managed to survive the impact the fuel would still flow onto the engine.


All in all my holiday plans may need looking into.

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