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The “worst car ever made” is a fun title that car people love to discuss. The truth is, there are probably a few cars that could make a play for the high honor of being the worst. The Trabant 601 has risen to the top as a perfectly good choice as the worst car ever made. Don’t worry, we will show our work, or at least, the Trabant 601 will show it for us. Enjoy watching the commercial for the worst car ever made. 

What is the worst car ever made? 

Despite the current novelty love that Germans have for the East-German-made Trabant 601 these days, they have also referred to it as the worst car ever made since its debut in the 1960s. 

At first glance, the Trabant 601 has joyful goofiness to it that might make you smile. However, this thing has well earned its reputation for being the worst car ever made.

Even though there wasn’t much to like about the Trabant 601, the average wait time for one of them in East Germany was between 10-13 years. If you thought the Bronco wait times are bad, it was typical for East Germans to buy a Trabant when a child was born, hoping that when the child is grown and might need a car, the family would have one. To be clear, this was a result of the abysmal East German economy after the war, not because the Trabant was liked. 

According to Silodrome, the Trabant 601 crawled from the primordial ooze in 1964 and tortured the people of East Germany until 1990. Westerners weren’t hip to the Trabant until the wall came down in ‘89. Before western Germany knew what hit them, they were inundated with the rattly little plastic cars. Despite the Trabant’s direct connection with the horrors of post-war Germany, these little scamps wormed their way into the zeitgeist of the time after the fall of the wall. 

What made the Trabant 601 the worst car ever made? 

One of the best parts of reading about the Trabant is seeing the original commercials for the sad little S#!% box. We’ll get into the specs in a moment, but before we do, the commercials really say everything you need to know about the car. 

The 1960s ad, meant to make the Trabbie look as good as possible, shows some normal car commercial things like luggage going in the Trabbie’s trunk, four people getting in it, it driving up a dirt hill (for some reason), and an extremely messy slalom. Hell, even the music gives a distinctly bad vibe. The whole thing is hilarious. It feels like a parody more than a commercial trying to sell East Germans a car. 

The Trabant 601 got its power from an air-cooled, two-cylinder, two-stroke engine – yes, like a dirt bike. It only made 23 hp, barely enough for a 21 second 0-60 mph time. Silodrome notes that the original design was only meant to last for a little while, and then it was to be updated. But its main purpose was to have an easily producible, cheap car for the masses while using the least amount of steel and other raw materials. 

They developed a simple steel unibody chassis with independent front and rear suspension sitting on transverse leaf springs. The body was made of Duraplast, which is essentially a kind of fiberglass. The nearly empty interior somehow has room for five people on the horsehair stuffed seats. 

The worst car ever made is kind of endearing 

the Trabant 601 in lime green. This is widely regaurded as the worst car ever made.
Trabant 601 | Courtesy of Historics Auctioneers.

There’s something kind of sweet about this horrid little two-stroke car. But that doesn’t mean we hate the little Trabant. In fact, between the horsehair cushions and the silly commercial is an endearing little car that beautifully shows both the madness of the Berlin Wall and the resilience of the innocent people affected by it. That must be why many Germans still love the little Trabants. Liked or otherwise, the Trabant 601 is still the worst car ever made. 


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