A drive in the world’s worst car

The Trabant is why East German Socialism failed

November 04, 2022

picture of blue Trabant engulfed in blue smoke
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That’s a good question about the lack of technical progress with carriages. Another possible explanation is simply that there was very little technological progress anywhere between the mid-1600s and late 1800s ... we are biased because we tend to think in terms of the UK and the industrial revolution, but the UK was a global exception until about the middle of the 19th century.
Perhaps carriages didn’t progress in Portugal because nothing much progressed in Europe at those times. That’s certainly what Angus Maddison’s and his follower’s research on growth and incomes across the world suggests. Quite often researchers find a turning-point at about 1870, when places like Germany and the USA began to take off.

HowAndWhy - 2022 12 30

Thanks for a very enlightening article about the Trabant.  I visited east Berlin in 1983 and can confirm the small size, the noise and the smoke of the cars.

Sadly, East Germany was not unique in its lack of technical progress.  I was surprised on visiting the Museu dos Coches (Museum of carriages) in Lisbon to find that there was no visible technical difference between the carriages of the mid-seventeenth century and those of the late nineteenth century.  Why was there no progress?  I am not aware of any consumer rationing process, or sumptuary law, or hostility to private business that might have hobbled the carriage manufacturers.  Or had the carriage reached its apogee already by 1650, leaving nowhere to go?  Like the modern piano which reached its cruising altitude in 1870 and has not risen since?

Peter_G_Moll - 2022 11 04

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