Isn’t this the latest and greatest French Automotive Technology? A car that runs on hot air
Gee, I keep seeing pictures of cute wee little cracker box automobiles posted on this forum. That puts me in mind of the Volks Waggon or folks wagon a peoples car that first appeared in Germany during the late 30s.
There were many “peoples” cars designed, built, and sold, in almost every country prior to 2008. I am mostly thinking about cars like the Model T Ford, The Henry J, or the Plymouth. What makes the VW unique is that it was the first mass produced car designed at the request of and first built on the orders of a Fascist dictator to implement National Industrial Policy, a 5 Year Plan, or Great Leap Forward, call it what you will. However only 630 original VW Beetles were produced before WW2 forced the factory to convert to making war material, making the original VW one of the rarest cars on Earth.
We are now being regaled by the press with glossy photos of cute little cracker box cars and Electric or Electric-Fuel (Hybrid) automobiles. So here is one of the other famous, if not successful peoples cars. This car was designed and built either by, or on the orders of a National Industrial Policy Board or other political origination. In other words by a “tickle down command economy, the one in former Communist East Germany.
I have a warm place in my heart for the East German Trablat. This car was the first and only real sustainable and green automobile. Its hood was made from cardboard, the rest of the body panels were constructed from a milage of fiberglass fibers, wool, compressed cotton, wood pulp, recycled paper, and likely any thing else left laying around. There is a famous picture of a man awkwardly leaning on a Trablat with his hand on the windshield cowling. The reason he did not place his hand on the hood was because his hand may have broken through the hood.
Even with its high recycled content, the Trablat without a doubt is the most eco-unfriendly automobile in history. Trabant 601 exhaust
First it had a two cycle engine that smoked like an incense burner. If the wind was right, you could smell a Trablat coming before you could either see or hear it. As a nod to German engineering the Trablat’s engine pumped out a screaming 18 horse power. The fuel tank was located above and behind the hot running engine (just in front of the passenger seat) like on a lawnmower. This was because the Trablat didn’t have a fuel pump and fuel was delivered to the carburetor via gravity. There was just not enough excess horse power produced by its engine to deliver enough gas to the engine to pull away from the curb.
The Trablat was so wildly popular in East Germany that there was an Eighteen year wait before you were allowed to buy one. It also came without many options that you and I take for granted, a fuel gauge, or turn and stop signals among them. One reason for the missing signals lights was because after most East Germans had endured the 18 year wait to get their liver spotted hands on a Trablat, they never hit the breaks or turned but made a straight bee line for the nearest border where they could escape the Workers’ Paradise of East Germany without being shot in the process. On the up side it was a snap to recycle a Trablat, goats regularly ate the exterior body panels.
There we have a short history of the worlds most famous and long running… well no not long running, most pitiful running peoples car. Move over Trablat, and say hello to the Chevy Volt.cranking Trabant