Drive-It-Day plans revealed – all Eastern Bloc classics welcome!

The Wartburg Trabant IFA Club will be celebrating Drive it Day 2019 with not one but two events – one in Scotland and one in England’s South West.

Drive-It-Day is co-ordinated every year by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC). The aim is to demonstrate the popularity of  the classic vehicle movement in the UK by encouraging classic vehicle owners to take to the road and celebrate the start of the driving season.

This year’s Drive it Day will take place on 28 April 2019 and the Club is offering two opportunities for owners of Eastern Bloc classics to join the fun.

‘Cars in the Park’ will see a gathering of Cold War Classics at Alice Park, Bath (BA1 7BL). Tony Hickman, owner of the Cafe in the Park, has invited Club members to display their vehicles at his family-friendly cafe.  After a coffee or a late breakfast the assembly will head out for a  road run, possibly taking in a visit to the Motor Museum in Calne.

Scottish IFA Day will start at the Scottish Submarine Centre, Helensburgh (G84 8UN), with time to look round this new attraction with a cold war interest. From there the road run will head north up the A818 joining the A82, stopping off at Luss Filling station next to Loch Lomond to fill up and take photographs. The run will continue up the west side of Loch Lomond through Tarbet  to the famous Green Welly for a relaxed lunch and impromptu car (and bike) show. The total route is just under 40 miles.

Club Chairman Mel Holley said: “We love to give Club members the opportunity to get out and about in their Eastern Bloc classics. We’re great supporters of Drive it Day and I’m especially pleased that in our 50th year we’re offering twice the opportunity for members to take to the road.

“All owners of Eastern Bloc classics, whether on two, four or more wheels, are welcome to take part, in Helensburgh or in Bath.”

The Wartburg Trabant IFA Club is proud to be a member of the FBHVC, which fights for our freedom to use old and classic vehicles on the UK’s roads.

* Head to  Facebook for more details of the two Drive It Day events.

21 January 2019


Dates confirmed for Club’s 2019 flagship weekend meets

Peek behind the scenes at the Morgan factory, tackle the famous Prescott Speed Hill Climb, delve deep below the Wakefield countryside, and enjoy road runs, steam trains, beer, and camping with like-minded enthusiasts – just a few of the reasons to put the Club’s two premier 2019 weekend meets in your diary!

The Club has confirmed that the 2019 Eastern Bloc Vehicle Weekend will take place from 10 to 12 May in and around the medieval market town of Tewkesbury.

The weekend will include the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Morgan Motor Company, where the iconic British brand’s three and four-wheel sports cars are still built by hand, and a visit to the Prescott Speed Hill Climb, where the Club has been invited to ‘cavalcade’ on the famous course. Participants on the weekend will also be able to display their vehicles for the public to admire at the historic Gloucester Docks.

After several successful years at Foxfield, the Iron Curtain Vehicle Weekend is heading to a new venue in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales for 2019.

From 19th to 21 July the Club will be based at the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, near Skipton, North Yorkshire. A packed programme of adventure and exploration includes the chance to go underground at England’s National Coal Mining Museum on Friday, and one of the Club’s legendary road runs on Saturday, climbing up to Hawes, England’s highest market town (and home to Wensleydale cheese. Cracking!)

Members and supporters are equally welcome, and the Club invites all  Eastern Bloc classic vehicles, whether on two wheels, three, four – or more! Participants are welcome to join in for all or any part of either weekend event.

Visit the Club’s events page for full details of these and other IFA Club events.

13 January 2019






Chocks away for IFA Club’s half-century at Bicester Sunday Scramble

The Wartburg Trabant IFA Club UK launched its 50th anniversary year in traditional style with tea and cake at the first Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble of 2019.

Appropriately dressed for the weather in an authentic Soviet fur hat, Club Chairman Mel Holley cut the birthday cake and welcomed members and enthusiasts to the Club’s pitch with an offer of tea, coffee or hot cocoa.

Among the IFA vehicles making their debut on the Club display were a rat-rod style Trabant Kombi 1.1 well-known on the VW scene, and a pair of restored MZ motorcycles. The heavily-modified Wabant which drew the crowds at the 2018 Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show proved equally popular at the Oxfordshire airfield.

Mel said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better launch venue for our 50th anniversary year than the Bicester Sunday Scramble.

“Like Bicester, the IFA Club takes pride in our heritage but is determined to make classic motoring relevant and accessible to today’s motoring and motorcycling fans.

“The youngest Trabant owner on our stand this weekend was just twenty, driving a car that was already ten years old when he was born. It was a pleasure and a privilege to welcome him to the launch, and we hope that our packed programme of anniversary events will give many more Eastern Bloc vehicle owners – of all vintages – an opportunity to join in.”

7 January 2019

East Germany comes to Cheshire

The University of Chester and the Wartburg Trabant IFA Club UK teamed up to bring an experience of life in East Germany to Cheshire.

Eight IFA vehicles, from a Barkas B1000 van fresh from the Club stand at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, to the last East German Military Police staff car still on the road, arrived at the University of Chester’s Kingsway Campus to support the Totally East: Life in East Germany exhibition of documentary photographs by Harald Hauswald.

The exhibition was organised by the University of Chester’s Department of Modern Languages and Department of Art and Design.

Dr Richard Millington, Programme Leader in German at the University of Chester, said: “The presence of the IFA Club UK and their vehicles at the exhibition really added an extra level of authenticity to the day. The visitors to the exhibition were really enthused by the photographs and the cars, and I’m very grateful to the members of the Club for coming to Chester and helping to make the day a great success.”

University of Chester Modern Languages undergraduate Austen Lowe seized the opportunity to tour the local streets in IFA Club Chairman Mel Holley’s Trabant 601.

Austen said: “The exhibition gave a true insight into life behind the Iron Curtain, while the IFA Club’s presence made the event so authentic and fascinating.

“As a student researching East German identity and nostalgia, I found the event completely refreshing. Having joined the Wartburg Trabant IFA Club, I cannot wait for similar events in the future and thank all members who have made me feel so welcome.”

IFA Club Chairman Mel Holley said: “Club members found these unique photographs depicting everyday life in East Germany absolutely fascinating, and we really enjoyed the opportunity to chat about our cars and the Club with Chester students and residents.

“We’re very grateful for the invitation to support the event and hope we really added to people’s enjoyment on the day.”

The exhibition was also attended by Ian Sanders, the creator of the popular Cold War Conversations podcast. Ian interviewed Richard, Austen, and several IFA Club members for his latest episode.

24 November 2018



Your chance to meet writer David Young

Friend of the Club and owner of a Wartburg 353 in Volkspolizei livery, author David Young will be in conversation with Cold War expert Dr Richard Millington during this year’s Chester Literature Festival.

David will be speaking about his Stasi Child series and the in-depth research he carries out to explore the real-life stories that inspire his books.

Stasi Child, the first in the series featuring  Oberleutnant Karin Muller, was a  Times Crime Book of the Month and a Telegraph Pick of the Week, as well as winning  the 2016 CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger for best historical crime novel. Muller’s story continues in  Stasi Wolf and A Darker State. The fourth in the series, Stasi 77, is expected in early 2019.

Follow David on Twitter (@djy_writer) for more about his novels, and his Wartburg!

* David and Richard will be in conversation on Thursday 15 November at 6pm. The event is free but tickets need to be booked.


Say hello at the Show!

November sees the Club returning to the NEC for the hugely popular Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show – more than one million square feet of cars, autojumble, clubs and trade stands.

Among the 3,000 cars on show will be a selection of our much-loved Eastern Bloc classics taking pride of place on the Wartburg Trabant IFA Club stand.

As well as the Club Chairman’s Wartburg 353, van fans will be able to see a very unusual Barkas B1000 which is brand-new in the UK, sourced with the help of Hungarian IFA enthusiasts.

This Barkas spent its first ten years in the DDR, then in Reunified Germany, before being taken to Hungary where it was used by a Skoda Car Parts business for events. Ten years ago an IFA enthusiast brought it to use at club runs and drive outs until she decided to sell it to its new UK owner.

Also on the stand the Club will be displaying a 1.3 Wartburg Tourist.  This rare model was brought to the UK some years ago but never registered. ‘Mr White’ joins ‘Mr Grey’ in the collection of Club member Ivor Burgess.

IFA vehicles in DDR livery always attract attention and the Club will be showing a Trabant Kombi in Interflug colours, created as a tribute to the hardworking Trabis at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport.

It’s still to be confirmed, but the Club also hopes that the stand will feature a Wabant – a Trabant with a Wartburg engine.

Visit the Club in Hall 5, stand 140.

The show runs from 10am on Friday 9 November 2018 to 5.30pm on Sunday 11th.



Totally East – University of Chester hosts unique photo exhibition

A unique exhibition capturing  life in East Germany before the wall came down is coming to the University of Chester in November.

The photographs were taken by Harald Hauswald, who documented everyday life in Berlin, and selected by Stefan Wolle, director of the GDR Museum in Berlin.

Hauswald trained as a photographer in Dresden and moved to East Berlin in 1978. In the eighties, he took photographs of the life he saw around him – “things that other photographers overlooked or regarded as uninteresting: scenes of everyday life, lonely and elderly people, couples in love, rockers, hooligans and young people in churches standing up for peace and environmental protection.  In East Germany, he did not receive any art award for this, but gotinto trouble with the authorities.”

Hauswald often came under scrutiny from the Stasi  and the GDR government, especially in 1987 when he published a collection of his work in the West, with fellow photographer Lutz Rathenow.

A Stasi critique of the book was part of the  1,500 page file they complied on Hauswald, commenting on the project as a whole and on each photo in the book:

The idea is to present the capital of the GDR not as it is, but according to the ideas of circles hostile to its constitution. The authorship of two young men from within opposition or dissident groups is intended to create a pretense of knowledge and “objectivity”… All stylistic means of an image-based and emotional language are used to mix impressions, memories, real, invented, made up or lying stories into a hodgepodge of half truths and slander, presented to the reader as reality.”

    • Totally East: Life in East Germany will be on show from Tuesday 13th November to Thursday 22 November in the Foyer Gallery, Kingsway Campus.
    • Read more about Harald and his work in this interview with Deutsche Welle.
    • The Club hopes to arrange a group visit to the exhibition on Saturday 17th November. Please visit the Facebook group for more details and to sign up.