If you have a drop of gasoline in your blood you are contaminated, regardless of your birthplace, origin, culture, or your color, you are a certified Car Nut or Gear Head. I can remember from a very young age that when we smelled gasoline spring was definitely coming after a harsh winter and we started preparing for a new motoring season. My name is Josef Czikmantory of Hungarian origin. I was born and raised in Eastern Europe in a particular part of Romania called Transylvania. That mystical part of this unknown and misunderstood part of the world, have always had a great tradition of cars and motorcycles and boiling blood infected with gasoline. I believe I inherited this "blood infection" from my maternal grandfather. He was a real old car nut and very handy. I think I inherited by father's ability who was very technical and could create miracles from pieces of junk!

At the age of 19 I bought my first motorcycle, and at 25 my famous TRABANT. To own a car at that time and in that place was a privilege and a dream for most of the people. The TRABI [it is a nickname for the TRABANT] was my limo, truck, off road, bootlegging, Christmas tree hauler, and all the daily basic stuff; my hotel on east European roads traveling from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea, equivalent here in the United States to coast to coast. The little car never let my down. He took me over heavily guarded borders into and around communist countries; and, in 1986, finally he was my partner in crime as we crossed over the notorious Iron Curtain where many people lost their lives trying to escape from communist Europe.

I refurbished my old TRABI 30 some years ago. He got a new white paint job with black bumpers, head and tail light rims, head liner, fresh interior, sound proofing with my own recipe (contact cement mixed with slow drying hammer finish paint and rubber dust, creating a paste and applying on undercarriage and side panels). I had a spare engine and every 2 years after driving 50,000-60,000 kilometers [31,000-37,000 miles] it needed to be rebuilt.

After helping me gain freedom I had to abandon the old TRABI on the Western side of the Iron Curtain. In 2005, after almost 20 years living in the United States, I found and bought on eBay a TRABI paying $800 for the car and $2000 for shipping. This car was a different model, but it was a TRABI, just a little bit different. It was originally baby blue with tan interior. With my son helping me, we decided to refurbish this one like so it would look like the little car that helped us escape to freedom. White and black! My son remembers being a 10 year old, sitting in the back as we crossed borders making our escape.

The TRABI was not intended be a show car. I refurbished it for fun to my standards. It became a show car almost by accident in response to a suggestion that I tell its story. Refurbishing the TRABI in a corner of a 45,000sq/feet shop it was just peanuts. I know every bolt and nut and all the tricks of working on it after just a short time. For me the 8220 and 8221 are just okay, but this little automobile is outstanding to other people because of what it represents.

On a daily basis I have to make fast and responsible business decisions in designing and building large CNC machines with space age technology for customers producing large and high precision parts for aerospace, energy, medical, military or common use. I wanted to share this unique little car to show the differences in this world and the world behind the Iron Curtain and to be a part of Southern California car culture.
I wish you happy and safe motoring and hope to see you at other car shows or weekend gatherings.

Josef Czikmantory
Hacienda Heights, California