Thawed Out 1973 Barkas B1000

Since the lifting of the Iron Curtain and presumptive end of the Cold War, a bunch of Soviet satellite state cars we might not have seen otherwise are slowly making their way to US shores. One such surprise appearances is this East German Barkas van apparently sitting for sale in Arizona at the moment.

Comparisons to Volkswagen's Type 2 may seem inevitable - they're both vans made in Germany - but the similarities stop there. Besides being divided by a literal and figurative wall of concrete and ideology, the Barkas, with its curvy body, semi-covered rear wheels, front engine and front wheel drive, was slightly more ahead of the times than the Type 2.

The cabin-over design probably inspired much later efforts by Toyota, and still looks good today, even if the earth tone paint scheme is decidedly seventies. The seller says there is some light rust and dents but the body is in otherwise great shape.

With the engine pushed to the front, the rest of the vehicle could be devoted to a high loading capacity and ingress and egress were made convenient as well. This, of course, had sinister implications in a police state like the GDR where citizens were supposedly snatched from the street and thrown in vans like this.

Engine power came from a tiny three-cylinder, two stroke engine, but it's mechanically uncomplicated and mostly reliable. Sourcing parts might be tricky, however. The seller says it's a running driving car and lists the mileage as 40k.

The interior is predictably spartan and the seats look damaged.

The seller says it was imported a couple years ago and has import papers and a vehicle registration but they don't mention a title. Examine the extent of the rust and make sure the documentation is all sorted first. 

Over 175k were produced until 1991, but it's a rarity over here. In the mostly free world of today, this car can now function as either an innocent daily driver or powerful historical reminder. 

Available here on ebay.

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