What turbodiesel mill could run 180 horsepower, yet make a Trabant 601 move out at a blistering pace? We are going to spitball a guess and say that it’s probably a Volkswagen TDI mill that has been reconfigured, shoved in the Trabi’s back end, and modified just a tweak or two to make it run well enough to drag race. It’s an interesting combination and one we approve of, if for no other reason than it’s a creative build. Trabants were front-drive symbols of life in East Germany and the 601 in particular was one of the longest-lasting machines to come out of divided Germany…over 2.8 million Trabant 601s were produced between 1964 and 1990. The original idea was that the 601 would be analogous to the Volkswagen Beetle: a simple, basic “people’s car”. Those same people could expect a wait of up to ten years before they were able to set down the Marks needed to purchase one, and ever since the reunification, Trabants have a strange place in the world…some see them as a throwback to a time they’d rather forget while others can laugh and enjoy the car and it’s foibles.
Or, demented creatures we appreciate cram Dieselgate-era engines into the tiny little shoebox and make them seriously haul. You might laugh at 180 horsepower, but stock these came with 23 horsepower from a two-stroke mill. That’s it. This might be the first time a VW diesel has both made a car faster and cleaner for the environment!