Camping Eastern Bloc-style
The way our parents used to go on holiday
28/09/2013 10:32 |
It’s getting colder outside, autumn is here, and winter is on its way. So let’s recall all the things we did in the hot summer of 2013.
Prokee (Gábor Prokop) is a hard-headed Trabant fan. He knows everything about Trabis and is even able to tell which little part of the East-German cult-car was identical in the first and the last model. He also knows about every Trabant-related event there is. He was the one who told me about the little meeting held in a camping by lake Balaton, a get-together of friends of the old cars of the region once known as the Eastern block. The event is absolutely independent of any of the brand and type- clubs. People just go there, park their old made-behind-the-iron-curtain cars, pop up their tents, have a swim in the largest lake of Europe, have fun, talk, eat and sleep. Nothing special, but the atmosphere is very friendly and relaxing. We decided to go and take a look.
We had to take Prokee’s Trabant, the matte green zombie, which was the ideal transport to the event. The front and the rear of the car is of a sixty year-old Trabant 500 (a car with a two stroke, two cylinder, 500 cc engine), but the car itself is a very late Trabant 1.1 with a four cylinder four stroke engine, converted to LPG. It confuses people, as it does not generate thick blue smoke like a proper 500 does. Even its proportions are different from those of an early Trabi – and above all that, it can cruise at 120 km/h, a speed no 500 was able to reach, not even on a steep slope.
Filling up the LPG-tank is a happy moment. You pay 30 percent less for LPG then for regular, cruising with a converted Trabi is really economical. Let’s hit the M7!
It didn’t take long to meet the first idiot, slaloming among the normal drivers in the dense traffic
Seeing this sign was absolutely not unexpected, that Saturday was one of the hottest days of summer. The wind coming in through the winded down windows when doing highway speed eased the heat, so standing still stuck in a traffic jam was the last thing I wished for
It took seconds to have a huge snake of cars. A police car with bluelights and siren rushed somewhere in the emergency lane
Ooops! As long as only one of the red LEDs is on it is no big deal, but it means it’s time to take steps to prevent the overheating of the engine
Experienced owners of old cars know how to avoid a serious f-word situation: turn on the heater. Turn it up to the maximum. This will let the coolant temperature drop to normal values and passenger room temperature rise to around 60 degrees Celsius
The cause of the traffic jam? Two cars had had a minor rear-end collision causing little damage, then everyone slowed down to take a good look at what had happened. Leaving the scene behind the highway was almost empty, we were speeding towards Balaton
We spotted the first Trabi by the lake, this beautiful cream-pie car. Trabant drivers greet each other by waving
Entrance of the camping. No need to ask questions – if you don’t figure it out by the sight of the cars, you really are at the wrong place
Inside there was really everything from the communist era, even Romet Pony rollers, made in Poland
A Romanian made Dacia (a licensed version of the Reanult 12) with a tent-trailer
More Dacias. It’s not easy to spot one nowadays, there were many on the streets, but most of the Dacias were bought by Rumanians in the nineties
A Reanult 12. Early Dacias were almost identical to the original Renault
A convertible Trabant, an East-German sports utility vehicle. This is the civilian version called Trabant Tramp, the one used by the East-German Army and border patrol was called Kübel.
These were the high-tech instruments in the Wartburgs in the mid-eighties, meant to help economical driving. They were very modern, but not when compared to the instrument panel of any non-east-block car
This Trabant is really a cherished one. It arrived on the bed of a brand new Mercedes Vito transporter
A Hungarian copy of a roof-box, made in the ‘80s, using glass reinforced plastic. The locks were of a Trabant’s trunk
Some even protected the Trabant by a cover even when parking in the shade
We went for a drive, looking for a proper lángos, a traditional Hungarian fried dough, a must when you’re at the Balaton. We didn’t find any, but found old military equipment displayed at the ex-pioneer-camp!
Of course we took a picture of the olive-green Trabi and the T-72 tank
Back in the camping I was taking pictures of everything in sight. This Trabi is really a perfect build, unfortunately I made no picture of the caravan matching it
Wartburg Tourist, the estate version of the Wartburg 353
Custom made Wartburg 311 convertible. There used to be a factory made convertible of this hunchback-Wartburg, but it’s rare as hen’s teeth, and expensive like hell
For me this is the most beautiful Lada, the Lada 1200 combi (estate)
Some were really well-equipped: the camping is big, a Czechoslovakian made Babeta roller comes in handy
These little grey fellows are more eye-catching nowadays than a fully equipped Audi A8. The vintage Trabant smelled of duroplast, the material all the body panels were made of in order to make production cheaper and use less steel
If I hadn’t seen anything else, the sight of this Dacia Taxi would have been worth the trip in itself. Spot the aftermarket trunk hood made to increase the load capacity, using glassfiber-plastic
Vacuum-formed polyethylene headlamp protector, once a popular aftermarket add-on
To drive a Dacia as a hobby car in Hungary is like to cherish a Yugo in California
All the Dacia drivers. They are the real rebels, the stuck up middle fingers of the vintage car enthusiasts. They spend loads of money on cars that no one respects and which have no market value at all, solely for their own enjoyment
Polski Fiat 125P, the simplified version of the Fiat 125, made in Poland
Prokee tried hard, but at the end of the day failed, and started arguing about period-correctness of Trabants
The Predom Prespol 126 is a caravan made in Poland, designed to be towed by the Polski Fiat 126P, a car smaller than a Smart. The caravan was even sold in Canada, called Taurus Cadet over there
This is the proper way to finish a summer Saturday full of nostalgia: watching the sun go down over lake Balaton while being protected against mosquitoes by the blue smoke of the two-stroke engines
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