The Trabi

Find out more about the famous East German car known as ‘racing cardboard’!


Are you interested in cars? Then you will definitely want to hear about the Trabant, or Trabi, as it is often called.

The Trabant was first produced in East Germany in 1957 and very quickly became a symbol of the country, just like the VW Beetle in the West. Unlike the Beetle, the bodywork of the Trabant was mostly made of plastic!

Although the Trabi was made from cheap materials, it was not easy for citizens of East Germany to buy one. You had to register first and then wait your turn for several years. After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the Trabi was produced for another year until production was shut down completely in 1991.

Nowadays you are not allowed to drive your own Trabi in the centre of big cities such as Berlin, as the CO2 emissions are simply too high. However, it still has a huge symbolic value for Germany, and there are plans to create a new, economically friendly version of the Trabant for the 21st Century – so we might see a new generation of Trabis on the streets of Germany in the future!

Did you know …?

  • The Trabi was often called Rennpappe (‘racing cardboard’), as it was mainly made out of plastic. People called this kind of cheap plastic ‘cardboard’.
  • In May 2014, the actor Tom Hanks was given a Trabi while visiting a small town in East Germany. It was later shipped to him in America.
  • You can go on a ‘Trabi-Safari’ in Berlin and Dresden. Up to four people can travel in a car and adults with driving licenses can drive themselves.
  • You can find out more about the Trabant at the Trabi Museum in Berlin.
  • The Trabant was even the star of a film: Go Trabi Go, made in 1991. It was the first major box office hit about events concerning the newly reunified Germany.

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