Twenty years after the fall of the Wall, one of the symbols of the DDR is to be given a new lease of life. The new Trabant will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.
More than any other brand, the Trabant symbolises the positive and negative nostalgia ("Ostalgie") for communist Germany. Families had to wait months or even years for the little car and once it arrived, you had to open the bonnet and fiddle around mixing 2-stroke every time you needed fuel - and you'd only know you needed fuel once you opened the bonnet and checked the dipstick. There was no heating except for your own blankets in those cold Eastern Bloc winters. Yet you could fit the whole family and your luggage into the compact little car and despite - or maybe because of - its failings, it was much loved.
The new Trabant will take a new direction. Gone is the 2-stroke in favour of envirnomentally-friendly electrical power. On first hearing, this sound odd. How can a brand that was associated with belching out black smoke reinvent itself on a green basis? But maybe the core of the Trabant brand is about frugality and saving and this translates for the 21st Century into saving resources. Go, Trabi, go!