Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trabant 601 Road Test from 1966.

Statue in the grounds of the Trabant factory ruins on same site as Horch Museum.

Road Test: Trabant 601          

Extract from a 1966 edition of the West German magazine “Hobby”

In your opinion, what is the cheapest: the Goggomobil 250 or the Fiat 500?
Neither – the Trabant 601 from Saxony is even cheaper: a proper family car
with a 600cc engine! So what’s its secret? As we’re technicians not
journalists, we are only going to study the car and what it has to offer the

For someone buying a small car, the biggest attraction is low maintence costs
(especially when it comes to the body). With this in mind, the Trabant’s unitary
construction Duroplast body is ideal. We still don’t know if this material is as strong as glass reinforced plastic.
Nevertheless, replacement panels are certainly well priced: a front wing costs DM36.75, a rear wing DM39.75, a door
panel DM37.95, a bonnet DM72.00 and a roof panel DM98.40. (Prices from the importer in Hamburg). The body as a
whole is very stable and rigid. To test this we drove over some roads that haven’t been repaired since Roman times
(sic). Uneven surfaces were easily detectable through the stiff suspension, but nf a Renault 4. The French offering is more precise – it is immediately apparent where
each gear is to be found. In the Trabant, we had to retake our acceleration measurements several times because we
found the gearchange difficult to work. Fortunately, there is a version fitted with an automatic clutch system called
“Hycomat” that we cannot recommend enough, even though we were convinced that you could get used to the manual
gearchange. The synchromesh on all four gears works well, while the fourth gear incorporates a free-wheel system that
cannot be switched off.

According to the manufacturer’s data, the Trabant can accelerate from 0 to 80km/h in 20.7 seconds. With a brand new
car and difficulties with the gear change, the best we could measure was 3 seconds over this time, but we would like to
belive that Zwickau’s figures are as accurate as their speedometer. We achieved an acceleration from 0 to 60km/h in

12.9 se conds using only the first three gears – you don’t need to change up to second until 45km/h and similarly third
isn’t needed until 70km/h. We did not wish to risk overloading the new engine, and in addition the test car was for
publicity and not a factory model.
Roadholding and tyres

the 1,000,000th Trabant in 1973
Front-wheel drive and floating rear axle: what could happen? We had a hard job to keep the car under control when the
rear end slid out on a paved roundabout – and that was only at a speed of 40km/h! We initially thought that the tyres
were causing the problem; the factory-fitted rubber could not even pretend to be up to modern standards. In addition,
the weight distribution over the axles is designed for a fully loaded car: 450kg on the front axle and 550kg on the rear.
With only two passengers in the front the handling is very different.

Fortunately, the rack and pinion steering is quite direct (but on the other hand quite heavy), allowing any “wandering” to
be quickly corrected. The turning circle (9.5m) is particularly good for a front-wheel drive car.
The suspension is hard. The transverse front leaf springs transmit every bump and rumble into the cabin, especially
my own 1989 601 Kombi
when there are only two people in the car. It is for this reason that, on the Lloyd, leaf springs were replaced with coils
(like on the new Wartburg from Eisenach). The floating rear axle was perfect for the heavy AU 100, but for the Trabant it
is too firm.

Our verdict on the Trabant

Someone who buys a car in this price category does so for a reason, usually for economy. You need a robust car that
you can maintain and, if needs arise, repair by yourself. The Trabant certainly meets these requirements! We’ve
researched the prices of spare parts and can conclude that they are as well priced as the car itself. There is nothing
complicated about this car, and it is with this that we can see a big opportunity for the Trabant which, naturally, is not
supported by a wide-reaching dealer network. It is a family vehicle in which you head off on holiday in without sacrificing
on camping gear. The loading capacity of 385kg does not slow the car down, in fact it improves handling. The governed
two stroke engine is economical, with a fuel consumption of 7 to 9 liters/100km, reflecting the economy of the rest of the
car. The final case for the Trabant is its pleasant profile that departs from the typical small-car look. The engine and
chassis may not be the most up-to-date, but for this amount of money, you can’t have it all.

Forlorn Trabant factory Feb 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A highly unusual two stroke car

I noticed for sale a few weeks ago a 'Goliath 700' car on Ebay that needed total restoration.

It was a 1954 model and if I wasn't financially strapped at the minute, I would have bought it.
The car only made £670 and although it needed total restoration, it looked like a good base.
Biggest problem I had was I would've had to have had it transported which would have added £400 onto the price as the car was in England.

I wouldn't think there's great availability of parts around nowadays for these, particularly without a knowledge of German as undoubtedly that where the lion's share of the parts will be.
I'm sure a Wartburg or Trabant engine could be made to fit into one of these to the detriment of originality.

For those who don't know what a Goliath is, read on:

Goliath was a German car marque that originated in 1928 in the city of Bremen.
Its founder's were Carl Borgward and Wilhelm Tecklenburg and Goliath was a subsidiary of the Borgward group.
The company made small 3 & 4 wheeler cars and light commercial vehicles and used two stroke engines up until 1957.
The Goliath was the first mass produced car to use fuel injection ( Bosch) and the only two stroke car ever to use it which makes these cars pretty unique in the world of two stroke cars.

In 1931 Borgward acquired the Hansa company and made cars under the names of Goliath, Borgward, Hansa and also Lloyd.

The first Goliath car  was the pionier launched in 1931.It was a 3 wheeler with a one cylinder engine.

The Goliath GP 700 first appeared in 1950 and was made until 1957.
As the name suggests it had a 700cc engine which was a two stroke, twin cylinder unit.
It was water-cooled and mounted transversely with front wheel drive.( very dkw like).

a pristine example of the Goliath Gp 700

From 1952, Bosch fuel injection was fitted as standard and put out 29 Hp.
Also from 1952, this car was available with an all syncromesh four speed gearbox, which later became standard and was very much ahead of its time in 1952.
The 1950-1952 early cars were carburettor powered and produced 25 Hp.
The standard cars had a top speed of 63 mph.

There was a 900cc engine later available (Gp 900)and a Gp 700 Sport model made from 1951-53 that had its engine enlarged to 845cc and had a claimed top speed of 78 mph. Gorgeous looking car it was too.
it produced 32 Hp. The bigger engined variants were two cylinder units as well.

rare Gp 700 Sport.Note the peugeot like lion symbol on front grille.

The Goliath factory was destroyed in WWII but production started again in 1949.

Perhaps no surprise that the car that sold on Ebay was bought by a German buyer, who had it transported back. Just shows how rare these cars are today and the effort some enthusiasts are prepared to put in to juat get their hands on one and restore it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trim Classic Car show next Sunday, 17th July.

Next Sunday is the Trim, Co.Meath annual car show and I will attend that with the 311.
Hopefully the weather will be good for the day and it usually attracts in excess of 600 cars.
This will be the 3rd year in a row that I've brought a Wartburg to it.


In 2009, I brought my 353 saloon. 2010, I brought the 353 Tourist estate.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Suzuki's Two stroke Car, the Suzulight from 1955!

1955 Suzuki Suzulight

Suzuki  were one of the first Japanese companies to go into car production.
The Suzulight SF was first introduced in 1955 and the SF stood for " Suzuki 4 wheel car".
The Suzulight was the name used to begin with, the Suzuki branded cars followed later,
although their Motorcycles were branded as Suzuki's at this time.

The Suzulight was their product to fit into the kei class of small vehicles that had to
conform to strict size and engine restrictions in order to qualify for tax and parking
concessions in Japan.( See also Subaru 360 for more info)

The Suzulight was available when launched as a car, van or pickup.
They were all based closely on the German Marque, Lloyd LP400, which in turn was
a copy of Dkw's front wheel drive, transverse engine layout,
 with the fuel tank under the bonnet. The only real difference between the Lloyd and
Suzulight was that the Japanese car used a narrower bore to make the engine that bit
smaller to fit into the 360cc limit in Japan for Kei cars.

1964 Suzuki Carry Van

Unlike the Dkw, however the Lloyd and Suzulight used air cooling and the layout was
very similar to the Trabant P50 that appeared in 1958.
Apparently, Suzuki had studied the Citroen 2CV and the Renault 4CV with a view to
importing them instead, but decided to go with the Lloyd car as their choice.
Whether this was solely down to price, I don't know.
Lloyd cars had a good reputation for comfort, reliability and solid mechanics.

The engine was 360cc, two cylinders and of course, two stroke.
It had a power output of 16 Hp at around 3800 rpm.
It was perfect for the kei cars that were becoming
extremely popular in Japan.

The car had drum brakes all round.
It was 2990 mm long, 1295 wide and 1400mm high.
It's wheelbase was 2000mm.
Sizewise it was very similar to the Mini, with the Mini being slightly longer and
wider, but the Suzulight was slighly taller and with a bigger wheelbase.
While the Mini used 10 inch wheels, the Suzulight's were 12 inches.

The car had an excellent suspension set up with independent suspension front
and rear, that utilised double wishbones and coil springs which was very advanced
for this time and particularly so in a small economy car.
It's simple chassis consisted of a central tube with the front and rear suspension mounted
on at each end.
Equally progressive was its rack and pinion steering which few cars had in 1955.
It should be remembered that all of these progressive features were Lloyd attributes,
not Suzuki's.

The gear box was a 3 speed, column mounted change.

The engine bore was increased slightly in 1956, which made the engine just over 1cc
bigger and increased power to 18 Hp.

The Suzulight was clearly a car made to a low price and it had few creature comforts.
Early models had semaphore type indicators and lacked a  fuel gauge.
Fuel levels were determined( like the  Trabant) by sticking a measuring stick into the
fuel tank.
It was found that the advanced suspension of the car was unable to cope with the very
poor road conditions that were prevalent in rural Japan. Some of the roads were little
more than dirt tracks with huge potholes, so the suspension was changed in favour of a
more traditional one incorporating leaf springs on both front and rear.

By 1958, slow sales prompted the company to offer just one model in their range,
this became the SL light van that had 2 front seats, plus an auxiliary seat.
The loading capacity of this little van was just 200 kg.
Only available in two tone paint colours the range was extremely eye catching.
It was also the first Kei class light commercial to have a bonnet due to the competition
mostly being rear engined.
There were only between 30-50 of these built before the model was replaced in
July 1959 with the Suzulight TL Light Van.

Suzuki made two stroke cars and vans up until 1969.