Trabi Safari

On Thursday evening, the German office treated all of us attending the summit to a special “surprise.” Leading up to it, all they’d tell us was that it involved German engineering and FahrvergnĂĽgen. We had a vague idea what that would mean, but it became apparent when we went outside the office and saw a lineup of classic 2-stroke cars!

Here’s Jim (my manager) with Leonardo (from Italy) and Thomas (from France):

Trabi is the nickname for these cars, which were the only model of car available in East Germany for decades. They were extremely expensive, and the waiting list to obtain one of these was a remarkable 15 years long. They basically have a 650cc two-stroke engine in them with 4 gears. The gear shift is actually on the steering column, so we all needed instructions on how to drive them!

Angie and Celine from our UK office popped into a fun red convertible for the ride:

All in all, we crammed about 30 people into these cars – here’s the entire group with my favorite car – the zebra – behind them:

The drive into and around Berlin was great – it was the evening so we got to see all the major sites lit up for the night. We were on the autobahn for a while, but sadly a 650cc engine doesn’t really let you push the speed limit too much!!

Of course, no event like this can pass without a bit of comedy. As we were driving along the streets of Berlin, Jim (the VP of the whole group) was driving the yellow convertible shown above. We’re just calmly driving down a road, when all of the sudden we hear two LOUD bangs. I look up, and Jim’s car has been enveloped in black smoke. We roll forward a few hundred feet (passing through his smoke cloud) and his car has essentially blown up and rolled to a stop. We pulled over next to a gas station while they called for a backup vehicle. While we took a break there, one of the guys gave us an overview of the cars:

Thankfully he said that isn’t next to impossible to actually really damage one of these cars – the engines are nearly indestructible. And sure enough, shortly after he finished saying this, one of the other guys managed to get Jim’s car up and running again (though they no longer let him drive it!)

Another interesting note – there’s no open container law in Germany. You can have a beer in a car, no problem! Here’s Mike showing us how the Berliners really do it:

It was a great event – thanks to the German team for putting it together!!

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~ by Nathan on October 20, 2007.

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