Today we continue our series of interesting and/or obscure cars that are living and dying in Poland. Several weeks ago we started a theme Cars of Axis Powers and thus far we have covered West German cars, Japanese cars, and Italian cars. Today we conclude this theme with a look at the cars made in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, also known as East Germany following the post-WW2 break up of Germany.
Unlike its Axis Powers brothers, East Germany fell under Soviet communist control, and pretty much everything sucked there compared to the life in the west. There maybe no better contrast than cars to compare life under Soviet occupation to that of NATO countries. Where West Germany experienced the “economic miracle” and became world’s third largest economy by the 1950’s, the few lucky East Germans that were able to get a car were limited to a plastic box propelled by a loud and smokey 2-stroke engine.
Today, as we will see, there are still East German cars in Poland and some are even still running. Those that are still running are owned as either promotional vehicles, by enthusiasts, or by those completely oblivious to the fact that there world around them has completely changed. As always, all images are courtesy of zlomnik.pl and its awesome readers. Some of the pictures may have been taken outside of Poland. Enjoy.
[Source of all images: zlomnik.pl]
Wartburg. These were actually well regarded in Poland as they were more reliable than Russian cars and front-wheel-drive made them better in winters. Two-stroke engine meant simple engines, which is a good thing when replacement parts are hard to come by.
I am taking a gamble here as I am not sure if this is actually an East German vehicle. I don’t go around researching vehicles due to time constrains and everything I write here is off the top of my head, so if anyone knows what this exactly is, please comment away.
Trabant, known a s “soapbox” in Poland, in its most popular color. This is the wagon version. Notice the license plates and compare to the car below.
The is the sedan (I think) version. Names varied by language, but they were all crap. Shown here in its second most popular color, possibly created when they were low on one of the paints required to mix to obtain the most popular color.
I am pretty sure that’s a custom paint job. Rear fog and reverse lights indicate that this is a post-1986 model.
IFA Mulicar 25. The company actually still exists, the only one from the days of East Germany. They still make similar small utility vehicles and have expanded into making a relatively small military vehicle.
Plastic doesn’t rust!
Now that I think about it, this thing could actually be French, not sure…
Wartburg, stoned Saudi-style. No idea…
Robur truck, part of a larger union of East German companies called IFA. Roburs were very popular medium-ish sized trucks and buses. The company fell during the unification of Germany but its vehicles are still working hard. Or not, as we’ll see soon.
Super limited edition Robur Cabrio.
Robur rusting in the morning fog. How poetic. You can almost hear it rust.
More than any other Eastern Bloc car, the Trabants became victims of many so-called tuners. I’m not sure of this is an El Trabanto or what.
Original-ish condition. This connoisseur is just waiting for the right time to sell this beauty.
Leave off the last S for savings. Also, dat Benz!
Roof racks were very popular on these cars since the trunks were very tiny. The fact that practically all cars had the same rain gutters made them easy to switch (and steal) between cars. Note the optional passenger side rear view mirror.
Another Mulicar. These made a ton of sense in cities and were probably much more reliable than similar Italian vehicles.
Old Wartburg, similar to the one I spotted in Krakow two years ago.
hoon slowly propel myself in one daily.
When traveling outside the country, it was required that your vehicle displayed sticker indicating where you were from. Despite the old black Polish plates, this DDR sign was obliviously added later on. D was for West Germany, PL was for Poland because P was for Portugal. S was for Spain, I for Italy, F was for France, CZ for Czechoslovakia, when it was still a one country, and so on.
Garbage pickup is on Thursdays.
Faded old pre-EU plates. No idea what the hell is going on with that body/paint. Maybe the paint was lead-based and it’s rusting? It wouldn’t surprise me.
IFA W50. Before the war the factory that made these, made Daimler-Benz engines for military aircraft. During the war it employed (I used that term loosely) prisoners of war from the nearby concentration camps to keep the factory going. Destroyed in 1945 by U.S. forces (‘Murica!) it slowly recovered as a state-owned factory.
During the days of East Germany it was making scooters and these trucks, along with some unsuccessful (“thermal events”) attempts at jet engines. Since the mid-1990s the factory has been producing… Mercedes-Benz trucks.
Robur buses. Note the vastly popular color. These were available with 4WD, mostly for export to African countries.
Funny… but the last of the Wartburgs were powered by VW Polo 1.1-liter engines, which doubled their power and fuel economy. The new engine allowed the Wartburg to set a record lap time at the Nürburgring Nordschleife of 25.03.
IFA W50… salt spreader? The W50s came in a variety of configurations, with diesel or gasoline engines, 2WD or 4WD.
IFA W50 crane… still working!!!
Pre-1962 Trabant. Old black plates means the same owners since… mid 1990’s, or so. I think, not exactly sure when the white EU plates were implemented.
Some plastic car and a classic Wartburg.
Here we see how East and West Germany differed.
Tourist – or Country Squire in German.
I hope you enjoyed this walk down Polish streets. The posts will continue soon with the Allied Forces cars living and dying in Poland.