Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Trabant Factory



Sam Vega said...

World-beaters to be sure, but British Leyland were close behind.

Ed P said...

Sam - perhaps these fine workers 'trained' the British Leyland lot?

Tammly said...

I met a student in 1972 at university who came from Oxford and had a holiday job on the BL Cowley production line. He said the workers there 'adjusted' the doors by wacking them with wooden mallets. This surprised him as he thought the Rover was supposed to be a luxury car.

As I stood at the bottom of my road in New Cross in 1990, I observed a Trabant full of newly free East German tourists parked in a layby. Trouble was this road was a bit of the main A20 from Dover and cars hurtled into the junction at the bottom from both directions. The little Trabant did not have enough power to draw out into the road to resume its journey against the torrent of modern western cars. A metaphore for communism, I thought!

A K Haart said...

Sam - they were close behind. A pity though.

Ed - they probably shared tips such as how to get the doors to close.

Tammly - maybe the tourists should have climbed out of the car to reduce the weight and give it a chance.

wiggiatlarge said...

I have told the story before, we met a couple when on holiday in Crete in the seventies, he worked on the production line at BL and the stories were legion.
One was that scuttles for the Marina were supplied in the wrong spec, when fitted there was a inch plus gap between the scuttle and the dashboard, so as to use up the wrong parts they simply filled the gap withmastic, there were other tales from the crypt but my memory has not retained them other than levering opening parts doors that didn't fit etc into position.

Sadly Alfa Romeo shot up the charts in this respect during the nationalised days, unprimed bodies were stacked in a field before being needed for assembly, and they had a rust problem, surprise surprise, a good friend of mine actually saw this when passing the factory, they didn't even attempt to hide it.

A K Haart said...

Wiggia - it was so bad we used to see comedy sketches about it. I remember one sketch where a group of car designers in an office talked enthusiastically about a new way to spray on a layer of rust before painting.

Peter MacFarlane said...

"...Alfa Romeo ...had a rust problem..."

I was always told this was because Gianni Agnelli (FIAT, who owned Alfa and still do), did a real with the Russians: the Russians got the designs for the Fiat 124/5 (which became some sort of Lada iirc) and FIAT got a pile of Russian steel.

Problem was, the Russian steel was Soviet steel, produced with no quality control and an attitude of "get it out the door somehow, anyhow", with results to be seen in Fiats, Lancias, and Alfas of the '70's.

Alfasuds were absolutely infamous - although wonderful in other ways - and I once had a Fiat Panda that was scrapped at four (4!) years old due to holes in the bodywork that you could literally put your fist through. With Lancia it got so bad that they gave up importing into the UK entirely and have never done so again.

Good old Russian steel.

A K Haart said...

Peter - strewth, scrapped at four years due to major rust holes in the bodywork must be some kind of record. It ought to be in the Guinness Book of Records.

Macheath said...

Re Alfa Romeo: my father had two Alfasuds in succession and I agree they were wonderful in many ways; despite a slight feeling you shouldn’t put too much weight on the floor, they seemed to hold together as long as you were prepared to fork out for Ziebart rustproofing (though you had to put up with some technical idiosyncrasies - he would invariably mutter ‘bloody Italians’ when anything went wrong, but it didn’t stop him buying a second one after the first was written off).

My old Fiat Brava also had a certain Italian charm. Soon after I bought it, a warning light appeared on the dashboard; the handbook instructed me to get to a garage immediately as it indicated a serious problem, with dire consequences if I continued driving. An italicised footnote underneath added ‘This light may also come on for no reason, in which case it can safely be ignored’.

A K Haart said...

Macheath - I remember Ziebart rustproofing, I think my father-in-law had it on his Marina. I used Waxoyl and applied it myself although I'm not convinced it achieved much.

It's not really surprising that we focus on style when it comes to buying a car. That 'certain Italian charm' has probably sold many cars and it isn't difficult to see why. These things matter.