19 Ivan Vasov St, 5390 Gostilitsa, Bulgaria

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Trabants

The pit pony of Eastern Europe for nearly 30 years, Trabants were marketed as having room for four adults plus luggage. Cheap to run, simple and fun to drive, and easy to repair, Trabants had a waiting list of up to 20 years. When production ended in 1991, a remarkable 3,096,099 had been driven off the production line. 

 

Many of us have an impression of what Trabants must be like, and some of our thoughts might not always be kind. We wouldn't automatically compare them to, say, a 1970's Austin Mini would we? You know the sort of thing, a simple, fun runaround, well worth a smile and some happy memories. Mini, simple, fun. Trabant, simple, fun. ... Hang on a minute!

 

Trabies run using a two-stroke engine. That means mixing petrol and oil together to make it go. This engine produces a very different sound and energy to almost anything else on the road. Put half a dozen together and it's something like a symphony of chain smoking bees with megaphones. With 26 snorting horses beating a rhythmic tattoo under the bonnet, a Trabant feels like a car. You know, like the car you passed your test in. Like something you are in control of, not the very clever CPU under the bonnet of your current car. You may not choose to commute daily in one, but you'll smile at the memory of what driving used to be like. Viva la difference! 

 

The Trabie has become coveted by many collectors, woodsmen and rally drivers. 

Ok, so an eclectic mix of modern day fans you may think, but with good reason. Trabants are a generally low upfront cost option (although ours are top draw examples) so almost anyone can own one - or several. They are incredibly rugged and used as you would a 4x4 in many parts of the world, due to their lightness and durability. They also lend themselves well to heavy customisation and make a remarkably affordable rally car. So whoever you are and whatever your needs, you can do a lot with a Trabant,. You see? It's all starting to make sense! 

Fiat 500's

Although the Fiat 500 is a name that has graced our roads since 1936, this iconic Italian city car for the people only took on its instantly recognisable shape in 1957. From then until 1975, These curvaceous and impish characters rolled off the Fiat production lines to both domestic and global applause. By the time the last 500 left Fiat factory gates, 3.9 million had been built in various guises for enthusiastic owners. 

We love to champion the liberators of the common man or woman, and in many respects, the Fiat 500 set an entire nation affordably free. While this part of the our automotive story isn’t entirely unique, it is the Italian ability to achieve this laudable goal while coming up with something utterly adorable and thoroughly engaging in the process that sets the 500 apart. While the luggage limitations are obvious, the 500 scores very highly on practicality. 4 seats squeezed into such a tiny frame is impressive, surprisingly spacious and comfortable up-front, though in fairness your rear passengers would benefit from being Italian in size. Generous doors, originally rear hinged ’suicide doors’, allow easy ingress and exit for such a compact vehicle. It is said however that the upgrade to front hinged doors in 1965 caused dismay from men no longer able to linger on the sight of ladies legs as they climbed in and out of the vehicle. The rear mounted 479cc engine helped designer Dante Giacosa produce a car perfectly suited to urban driving, and yet lively enough to skip along Italian country roads producing perma-jaw aching smiles for those at the wheel and alongside. Luggage space is at a premium, but plenty for two persons with a modicum of discipline. And for those that like to travel without worrying about such nonsense as packing discipline, there’s always the Classic Car Holidays support vehicle to take the strain of any excess baggage. 

 

According to Sophie McGraw, staff writer at Arnold Clark, asking the Fiat 500 UK fan club   what they love most about this iconic model, ’the raw uncontrollable power’ was the response offered.