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CatatonicChimp's 1977 Trabant 601

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  • 1 month later...

Project Objective:

To restore the Trabant to Original Factory condition, keeping as much as the original parts as possible.


- First thing is to see if I can get the engine running, new 6v battery & flush the oil out of engine and fuel tank/lines, check and if needed replace oil in gearbox.

- Strip all panels/parts off car and assess rust/damage.

- Order replacement parts from Germany (approx 6-8 weeks delivery time)

Things I know need to be fixed before entry certification/wof/registration.

- Door Sills, at best light surface rust, at worst just order new door sills from germany, approx 100Euro + Labour for getting them installed.

- The Brakes, none of them work, replacement kit + new brake lines 200Euro

- Rubber seals (doors, windows, boot) Some are in ok condition, but there are full kits available for the car so I may just replace it all Approx 120Euros.

Needs to be done, but not required for certification:

- Engine rebuild kits are anywhere from 10-150euros

- Replace points ignition system with electronic replacement, its a cheat, but more reliable considering the time it takes to get parts. 140 Euros

Since I am planning on stripping the car, I'll probably get the entire car repainted, I want to get it the same original colour (NeptunBlau). Advice on how to go about getting the paint matched would be fantastic.

- Seats, some of the internal padding is out of shape, and one seat has a different cover compared to the others. (The cover can be brought online, not sure how to deal with the internals till I strip it down...

- Music, Planning on a hidden stereo, something basic that will allow me to play music off my ipod.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I now have almost everything I should need to get the engine running when it arrives including the 6v Battery, the one exception is the gearbox oil, I'm still waiting for a few quotes to come in. most places only sell Hydraulic oil in 20L or 200L drums, and I only really need about 5L, at worst I've found one at supercheap auto that matches the spec, but been an Australian brand, nobody on the trabant forums has tested it, and I would prefer not to be a guinea pig if possible.

The other thing missing is the car... it was supposed to be in Sydney today, and transferred to another boat to arrive in Wellington on the 7th, however the ship is late and It won't be in sydney till the 3rd. :'( which means it missed the connection and it will probably add at least another week till delivery..

Other parts are starting to arrive as well, I managed to get some 6v bulbs from amazon uk, and amazingly it only took 4 days to arrive, and for less then the price of a single headlight bulb in my old Nissan Sunny. While I was at it, thanks to the UK IFA Club I managed to get some RHD Headlights to replace the LHD units currently in there.. the only modification I will have to make is one connector is slightly different and will require a crimped spade connector to be attached.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Quick update.

The Trabi has arrived in NZ finally. It still in its container and awaiting Bio Security, but at least its on the docks in Wellington.

It was supposed to be here last week on the 7th, but it missed its connecting boat, then it was supposed to be here on the 14th but the storm most of NZ experienced a week and a bit ago considerably slowed the trip down.. Anyway its here, expect photos in the next few days once it passes MAF checks.



I also got bored this weekend, so a friend and I build a work bench before the garage became to crowded with Trabi parts...



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So it finally got rechecked by MAF today... after spending almost a full week in fumigation....

"All Biosecuirty Requirements Met: NO" :cry:

"Conditions: Steam underneath, vac bon, boot and interior"

I am hoping they can do that tomorrow and deliver... but somehow I don't think that will be done till Monday... I am also hoping they don't loose any of the spare parts in the boot... or damage anything.

So another weekend possibly without the car, + port fees (free storage days have run out yesterday) and extra fees for fumigation and cleaning.... (it was clean when it left Germany, not perfect, but it wasn't like it was covered in dirt)

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I've spent the last 4 hours in the garage playing with the car, and here are a few more photos...

Looks like I will have to spend a little money at trabantWelt.de (trabantWorld) next week...

Things that work,

head lights


parking lights

things that are iffy

most of the switches on the dash are loose

choke and gear shifter are sticky... probably just need a good clean...

hazard lights only work on one side, unless indicator stalk is up or down, in which case it works properly...

things not working that I've tested


the starter motor appears to run for the fraction of a second that I let it turn over... but I want to setup a temp fuel line/tank, as I need to flush the proper fuel tank before I put fuel in it, as its currently full of oil.

Engine after cover and fuel tank removal


Lots of spare, most are original... including DDR spark plugs, but they all look fouled.. might take a photo of the tomorrow and you can tell me what you think... I am a poor judge of spark plug condition.


I seem to have way to many indicator stalks


not exactly sure what these are


have yet to open the coffee tin to find out what is inside... I think I leave that for a seperate post some time.. "the mystry of the coffee tin"


Original Medical Manuals, and I think service book... its empty



Most if not all appears to be original... the wound dressings date back to 1976



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  • 2 weeks later...

Good New Everyone...

  • Interior minus the dash has been removed.
  • bumpers removed
  • front + rear lights removed
  • rear light wiring is now in the main cabin ready for removal
  • all front engine bay lighting wiring is ready to be pulled out of the cabin...
  • the cracks in the engine bay that I thought were rust, are in fact not rust but dried out paint that has bubbled and cracked, metal underneath still has primer and looks fine... I haven't checked the interior yet but I am hoping it is the same stuff..

the slightly annoying

  • the rivets are still in, waiting to grab the centre punch tomorrow before attempting to drill rivets out.
  • a large allen bolt is preventing me from removing the engine... the clutch leaver is blocking my 10mm allen key from undoing it.. the handle is too big.

if anyone could reply in the project thread regarding places that do sand/media blasting in welly, I would appreciate it, and a rough idea of cost for the entire chassis if you know.. and who do people recommend for paint?

I am probably going to get ESL to do a bunch of powder coating for parts in the engine bay as they are around the corner... but they haven't replied to my emails yet... I guess I will have to phone them.

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Finally got a bit of time to do some serious work on the car tonight... only 2 plastic panels left on the body (not including doors), front right fender and and roof, but I am hoping I don't need to remove the roof as it requires me to uncrimp the edge and apparently they never really go back the same...

So here enjoy the photos... came across a bit of structural rust when removing the panels... I've seen worst examples in Trabants.. so hopefully this won't be too bad to fix... I was hoping to send it off to the certifiers this week to get a rundown of what they think needs fixing.. other than the obvious things that are removed.. and get the rust repairs started.. .however sill ACC bill arrived in the mail this week... so yet another delay...









Still tossing up if I should remove the glass, or leave it be for the moment, going to replace all the rubber seals in a while anyway... each has cracks and tears, and the front doesn't match the rest of the seals.

P.S. Not sure of the date yet... probably about 2-3 weeks away... but can anyone recommend a good car transporter in wellington, or would be willing in exchange for beers to help me move the car with a trailer... I don't have another car at the moment. :( (Miramar -> Petone)...

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

The Car is back home, the repair certifier had a look, and its not nearly as bad as i thought... just need some new wheel wells in all four corners... and little patch here and there..

Managed to get a few spare hours to play with the car over the last few nights... managed to get all the dash and the steering column and the pedals out. only things left that need to be removed are the wipers, gas pedal and the front and rear windscreen, then its about ready to be blasted.. but when that will happen will depend on when they reply with the quotes.




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  • 3 weeks later...

Parts from Germany arrived today, unfortunately it wasn't quite door to door service.... Their Door to my nearest Airport, so had to run to the airport, pick up the airway bill, take it to customs down by the port, pay a bunch of GST and then take another form back to the airport and finally pick up my box of parts...

Anyway its all done, and they were packed very well... and they included a present as well.





2 Rear wheel wells (complete)

2 front wheel wells (half)

2 side entry plates

2 door sills

4 jack point tubes

The Present: (It was wrapped with gift wrap with a bow) so amazing...

2 spark plugs

Engine manifold kit

Neptuneblau Trabant Toy

Trabant Bonnet Logo



Some photos from a few weeks back when I test fitted the Radios I got from Germany (Stern Transit), finally got around to testing them this weekend and they all appear to work.. but I might have blown the small speaker I had... all three steros were working when I tested them originally, and then after a while I tried again and it was a no go... so not sure what was going on there..



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  • 4 weeks later...

Haven't updated in a while, but this is the first time in a while I've had time to work on the car.

I started disassembling the engine, got the cylinders off and pistons out, but I need to remove the pulley wheel before I can crack the case in two... but the nut is not wanting to move...

does anyone have a rattle gun I could come over and borrow (Thankfully the engine is so light atm I can just put in the boot)? or a massively long breaker bar/extension?

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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 months later...

Progress Report:


I did managed to get the car out of the garage on saturday and took it out on to the road for a few moments to turn it around, that was fun since I live on a somewhat steep hill, and the car still has no brakes except a hand brake. The reason it has no proper brakes yet is, I can't bleed brakes to save myself... that or something is screwy in the brake system... 


The Dash has been reinstalled, and electrical gremlins seem to be fixed for the moment, the basic wiring for the trailer connector is done, but I am leaving it for the time being until everything else is done.

 All the casing around the engine has been installed and the heater works with no apparent leaks causing exhaust to enter the cabin. 


I finally got around to putting the new seat covers on the drivers seat and fixing the bodged job I did on the passanger seat.. I do have new covers for the rear bench as well, but the originals are in ok condition, so I might leave those for the moment. 



Currently Todo list prior to Entry Cert:


- Finalise order for 3rd Brake light from US, I found a 6Volt led light that can hide on the top edge of the window, very thin and almost invisible when not in use, originally designed for classic porsches it has quite a few mounting options so I should be able to get it fitted to the trabi without much of a problem.  

- Send Seatbelts to Oz for rewebbing, They do it to the full ADR standard with correct certification tags, will probably save me any extra problems if I decide to move back to Oz in the future.

- Glass Install (Booked for wednesday morning) 

- Brakes check, I'll probably just book the car in with ABC and they can give the brake system a once over and do the bleeding correctly, and see if I can get them to drill the two rusted bolts out of the bumper mount, I can't get access to them without a lift.


And a picture: 


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Well the glass install was a complete disaster this morning.... 


Nothing broke... but nothing worked either.

The problem was that the seals are quite big and chunky, it was difficult to get the seals onto the glass, and once the seal was mounted around the glass, they didn't want to stay in place, even with a ton of masking tape. It didn't help that there was only one glazier doing the job when you really needed two.. 


So they've taken the glass with the seals, to see if they can get the seals to form a bit better around the glass before the next attempt with two people... so glass install is delayed till next week probably... :(


since the glass won't be draining my car bank account this week, I've booked it in to get the brakes checked, snapped bumper bolts drilled out, and I'll see if they can check the timing...  timing wise it should be correct according to the electronic ignition instructions (badly translated from german to english) it says that the red indicator light on the unit should turn on when cylinder 1 is 8mm BTDC, however the manual for the original points ignition plate mention that the spark should be at 4mm BTDC. I am not sure if the differences is due to the differences between the way the electronic version is setup vs the points system... but I figure the best way to check is to get them to check with a timing light.

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