Trabant is the brand name of a series of models from the East German car factory VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerk Zwickau in Zwickau. The name of the car was selected in 1957 after a competition.
Trabant has a complete self-supporting construction of metal, but the outside was made of Duroplast, a plastic made of cotton fibers soaked in phenolic resin. The Duroplast was used because of a steel shortage due to a trade embargo by the West and a surplus of cotton fibers from the Soviet Union. The phenolic resin was extracted from brown coal, which was widely available in the GDR.
The name is very appropriate: on the one hand it means as much as ‘buddy’: many people considered their Trabant as part of their family.
On the other hand, the name refers to Erdtrabant, or satellite. The car had to show that the GDR was going along with the technological progress that delivered the first satellite in the Soviet Union in 1957.
Hear the recognizable sound of the Trabi horn!