The Trabant (/ˈtræbænt, -ənt/; German: [tʁaˈbant]) is an automobile which was
produced from 1957 to 1990 by former East German car manufacturer VEB
Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau. It is often seen as symbolic of the former
East Germany and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in general. The Trabant had a
duroplast body mounted on a one-piece steel chassis (a so-called unibody),
front-wheel drive, a transverse engine, and independent suspension – unusual
features in 1957 but it remained much the same until 1989 when it acquired a
(licensed) Volkswagen engine; its discontinuation followed in 1991. The 1980s
model had no tachometer, no indicator for either the headlights or turn signals,
no fuel gauge, no rear seat belts, and no external fuel door, and drivers had to
pour a mix of gasoline and oil directly under the bonnet/hood.
Called "a spark plug with a roof", 3,096,999 Trabants in a number of models were produced over nearly three decades with few significant changes in their basic design. Older models have been sought by collectors in the United States due to their low cost and fewer restrictions on the importation of antique cars. The Trabant also gained a following among car tuning and rally racing enthusiasts.