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Soviet Commie Cars Were Never Meant To Look This Good

Classic Cars / 3 Comments

Leave it to Vilner to luxe-up a decidedly spartan classic.

The Trabant was never meant to be fancy. Quite the opposite: it was frugally made in East Germany for centrally planned markets behind the Iron Curtain. But a customizer in one former Soviet satellite state has put a decidedly more upscale spin on the old "worker's car."

Bulgaria-based Vilner Design has completely reworked the interior of this, one of the last Trabants made, postulating in very physical form at what the Communist-era might have looked like if it had been the "brainchild of Ferdinand Porsche," who famously created its West German counterpart in the Volkswagen Beetle.

The exterior looks like most any other Trabant, albeit with a few visual enhancements. The matte black trim contrasts nicely with the flat beige bodywork, but with modern LED headlights and a tartan-clad roof, steel wheels, and side-number graphic hinting at the delicious treatment inside.

Vilner reupholstered the cabin in two-tone black and ivory leather to complement the exterior, with tartan inserts in the seats, dashboard, and door panels, and covering the shifter boot and the headliner. It also fitted a Momo steering wheel and wrapped it in leather as well, and a retro-style radio packing modern internals.

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It left the standard headrests and hand-cranked windows in place. And as this is a later-built model, it also packs the 1.1-liter four-stroke inline-four from the Volkswagen Polo, instead of the 500 or 600cc two-stroke two-cylinder engine that powered earlier models. It's mated to a four-speed manual driving the front wheels.

"Everyone born before the 1990s can identify those lines immediately," said Atanas Vilner. "The Trabant. It's so much more than a cheap form of transport. It's a symbol of an era of separation, which marked the present and the future of several generations."

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