East German "Trabi" car reaches 235 kph

Mon Oct 4, 2010 11:27am EDT
 
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By Michelle Martin

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Two German car enthusiasts took their Trabant -- the iconic car of communist East Germany -- to the limit while celebrating the 20th anniversary of German reunification, reaching a top speed of 235 kph (145 mph).

Maik and Ronny Urland are claiming a new speed record for the two-cylinder "Trabi."

With their feat over the weekend, the brothers have given the lie to one popular Trabi joke -- "Question: When does a Trabant reach its top speed? Answer: When it's being towed away."

The Trabi, also known as a "Rennpappe" -- or "cardboard racer" -- due to the low-quality, flimsy material from which it was made, was the most popular car in East Germany.

East Germans had to wait years to get their hands on one of the micro cars whose design remained virtually unchanged for the entire three decades of its production.

The Trabi continued to be manufactured until 1991, but many East Germans ditched their "spark plug with a roof" for a more sophisticated West German cars after the Berlin Wall fell.

However, with the spread of "Ostalgia" -- nostalgia for the old East Germany -- the Trabi has become more popular over recent years, even achieving cult status.

Trabi fan clubs have sprung up in many eastern towns and so-called "Trabi Safaris" offering tourists the opportunity to drive one of the stinky old cars themselves have proved a hit in Berlin and Dresden.

There are even plans for a comeback of the iconic car -- albeit with a more modern, environmentally friendly design.

(Editing by Steve Addison)

 
<p>File photo of visitors looking at different models of Trabant cars at a exhibition at the 50th anniversary of the Trabant car in Zwickau November 10, 2007. German car enthusiasts took their Trabant -- the iconic car of communist East Germany -- to the limit while celebrating the 20th anniversary of German reunification, reaching a top speed of 235 km/h (145 mph). Maik und Ronny Urland claim they have set a new speed record October 3, 2010, for the two-cylinder "Trabi", a remarkable feat considering the boxy clunker's reputation as slow and unreliable. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke</p>