24 Years & Counting: An Epic Trabant 601 Restoration

They are saying good issues are available in small packages, and that’s positively the case right here.

The 2024 Elmia Customized Motor Present, held in Jönköping, Sweden over Easter weekend, turned up some wonderful builds. You’ll have seen lots of them in my most important occasion story, however at this time I need to share the automotive that stole the present for me – a 1988 Trabant 601.


For anybody unaware, the Trabant 601 is a compact automotive constructed by VEB Sachsenring from 1965 to 1990. Basically, West Germany had the Volkswagen Beetle, and East Germany had the Trabant 601.

Maik Kalsow, this Trabant’s proprietor, purchased the automotive manner again in 1999 for a mere 50DM (Deutsche mark), which roughly interprets to US$27 in at this time’s cash. Sure, you learn that proper!

From 2000 till 2010, Maik labored on the automotive along with his brother, whom he had bought his first 601 from some years earlier. However when his sibling’s automotive pursuits went in one other course, Maik continued the construct himself. It was at this level that he determined no nut or bolt could be left untouched in its recreation.

The overwhelming majority of labor was accomplished over the previous eight years, with Elmia 2024 being the Trabant’s newest displaying.


With each door open, the wheels eliminated and mirrors laid on the bottom to indicate off the trouble that Maik has put into the 601’s underside, I needed to take a better look.


Even should you’ve by no means seen a Trabant 601 in individual, this cabin may appear acquainted. That’s as a result of the instrument panel, pedals and door handles got here from a Mk1 VW Golf. Elsewhere, you’ll discover a {custom} sprint, bolt-in half roll cage, Recaro seats and a Momo steering wheel.


And that’s not all. This little beast is packing a severe sound system constructed round a Kenwood KDC-X7000DAB head unit, six Audio System M Collection element audio system, a pair of Alphasonik PSW810 subwoofers and Hifonics Zeus amplification – all housed in {custom} enclosures.

From the preliminary inside idea to the leather-based and carbon work, Maik did all of it himself.


The outside has a narrative of its personal. Six months after buy, all the automotive was torn down for a full overhaul. All pointless holes had been stuffed, the roof edges had been smoothed out, and new Audi door handles in carbon fibre had been added. Maik additionally tailored Golf Mk1 headlights to suit.


The fenders have all been widened – 70mm on the rear – and now home 14×8.5-inch Schmidt TH wheels wrapped in Toyo Proxes 225/40R14 tyres.


At Elmia, the uncovered left-side wheelhouses revealed the Golf Mk1 entrance disc brake conversion and a rear drum overhaul. As for suspension, there’s a mixture of Kupke coilovers and Koni shock absorbers with cast leaf springs.


The mirrors below the automotive confirmed simply how a lot work Maik has put into the undercarriage.


As for the engine, the Tranbant’s 2-cylinder, 2-stroke, 600cc mill stays, however 26 horsepower has by no means seemed so good.


Maik went above and past to make sure the engine bay obtained the identical degree of consideration as the remainder of the automotive. The engine, gearbox, alternator and carburettor had been all painted within the exterior color. And the fan wheel was chrome-plated, as was the strut bar.

The engine itself hides away below a custom-made carbon cowl.


It has taken Maik 24 years to get thus far along with his Trabant, and I’m certain there will likely be many extra years to return. Customized automotive builders at all times say there may be one thing to alter or improve, however what might Maik presumably enhance on? I suppose we should wait and see…

Alen Haseta
Instagram: hazetaa

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