Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Few Words on Communist Cars

You paid your advance to the official national dealer. You even slipped extra bills in there to get you a bit more forward on the waiting list and to make sure you are getting the make, type and colour of car you asked for. All you have to do now is to wait for five years.

Let me put this forward: I was born and raised in a dictatorship in my early years of childhood. I type this in as a reminder upon reading today's news that Soviet Union mk2 has come ever closer to manifestation. But before the story could get a darker twist, let us get on a more idle level of pondering and plunge ourselves into a bit more pleasing topic: cars. Communist car, that is.

I remember clearly as day standing outside no. 77 at the edge of the crowd, holding my mother's hand as a six year-old, looking at a police motorcycle and the German shepherd dog sitting next to some giant-looking police officers. I had no idea at the time but I was part of history happening at large. It was October, 23rd and we were listening to speeches at the very first free commemoration of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, outside Imre Nagy's birthplace, one of the key figures - and martyr - of the revolt, marking the occasion dropping the affix "People's" from the front of "Republic of Hungary".

Although I have had vague memories of preceding times, the physical evidences of past history still surrounded us as a memento of times, and to an extent they still do - most importantly in the minds of people.

One of those evidences I grew an extensive affection to in general were cars. Cars  that were represented by about ten regular makes and about fifteen types altogether, serving as the only consumer choices ranging territorially from the middle of today's Germany to the Pacific Ocean. Lada, Moskvitch, Skoda, Trabant, Wartburg, Polski, Yugo, Dacia and some oddball and rare makes and types that were either available to government officials only or types that no one ever bothered to buy, they were so bad - even by contemporary standards.