Trabant

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Trabant

The Trabant had body panels made of Duroplast, and the engine smoked like it was electing a new pope.

(Creative Commons/Flickr/Chapuisat)

Ask any group of old car guys what car is worst, and they'll probably ask you with a squint, "Does it have to be a car sold in America?" If you say no, because you want to know what wacky thing they'll come up with, they will all say, "Trabant."

As if bleak Communism and barbed wire weren't enough to break the spirit of the East Germans, they also had to endure the Trabant. The cars had bodies made of recycled cotton and wood fibers backed into plastic called Duroplast, they lacked such fancy refinements as brake lights and they smoked like they were electing a Polish pope. The Trabant also emitted an eau du two-stroke scent, since like a chainsaw, their engines required an oil and gas mix. Getting one of these cars was as easy as putting your name on a 10-year-long waiting list at the government-run factory. Getting rid of one was as easy as waiting for the Berlin Wall to fall, puttering across the border and then running like hell away from that horrible little car toward freedom.

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