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Australian Outback car
Holden ute Australia
1949 FX Holden Australia
Stuarts Well Australia Dodge
Holden EH Australia
1965 Ford Falcon Australia
Wartburg and Trabant, Budapest, Hungary
1948 Pente 600, Budapest museum
Volvo Budapest Hungary
Lada sedan Budapest
Trabant Krakow Poland
1982 Citroen Dublin Ireland
Fiat 500 Copenhagen
Jaguar Prague
Opel Kadett Liechtenstein
Talbot Fes Morocco
Peugeot Morocco
Death Valley fire truck
Alaska Corvette
Dodge Dart batmobile Alaska
1948 Cadillac Series 62 Saoutchik Las Vegas
1933 Pierce Arrow Las Vegas
Honda Civic Switzerland Europe
1962 Ford Galaxie 500 Iceland
Citroen 2CV Iceland
Citroen snowmobile Iceland
Dacia Sighisoara Romania
Dacia Romania
VW Thing Maui Hawaii
Honda Element Maui Hawaii
VW Karmann Ghia Maui Hawaii
1960 Plymouth Valiant, Hilo Hawaii
Volvo station wagon Oslo
Barrow Alaska engine block heater
Volkswagen Beetle Cusco Peru
Daewoo Tico taxi Peru
Toyota Crown taxi Hong Kong
Toyota Prius Phnom Penh Cambodia
Toyota Camry Cambodia
Toyota Camry Cambodia
Siem Reap Cambodia truck
Bogota Colombia Mini Cooper
Bogota Colombia Mini Cooper
Renault 4 Bogota Colombia
Renault 4 Bogota Colombia

Cars around the world

On first glance, the snow-covered car reminded me of a little, mid-1950s Nash Metropolitan.

Trabant Brasov Romania“What is that,” I asked the guide taking us around Brasov, Romania.

“A Trabant,” he sniffed. "They”re junk.”

I saw a lot more of that “junk” dotting the streets of Budapest, Hungary — our next stop on this trip a few years ago. They were so cheap-looking, so bland, so rusty and falling apart … and yet so darn cute. I was enamored.

About 3 million of the two-cylinder cars were produced in East Germany from 1957 to 1991. They are inefficient, dangerous, and tend to spew exhaust into the passenger compartment, which seats four.

Trabant Budapest HungaryEver since, I have gone Trabi hunting in every former Communist country we visit. I’ve seen them in Hard Rock Cafes in Ireland, Panama, and Germany. They’re suspended from the ceiling at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. I even got to ride in one during a tour of Krakow, Poland.

In Berlin, there’s a Trabi World museum and tour company that I stumbled upon after it had closed for the day. I will be back to explore that.

Trabants have become my symbol for international travel. But they’re not the only interesting cars I find.

Cusco VWCusco VW

Cusco VWCusco VW

Cusco VWCusco VWIn Cusco, Peru, battered Volkswagen Beetles are ubiquitous. Even though the first-generation Beetles hadn’t been sold in the U.S. since 1977, South American production continued into the 1990s. For such a common car, it seemed that each one I found had a unique personality.

In Morocco, old Mercedes sedans from Europe find a second life in taxi fleets. In Cambodia, used Toyotas and Lexuses from the U.S. are scooped up and imported. Finding these cars for me is as much a part of a country’s cultural experience as stepping into a museum. There are still enough preserved classics or notorious junk on the roads in the world to make each trip a treasure hunt.

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