East Germany’s iconic car the Trabant – top speed 62mph – can be yours for £6,000

That’s the asking price for the last of the factory-fresh Trabants of the old communist East Germany which first rolled off the production line 60 years ago.

A western businessman who bought a fleet of the smoke-belching clunkers is selling off the last of them.

The Trabants – all “deluxe” 601S models – are being sold by Hanover businessman Herbert Herrmann, 67.

He went east to buy 72 of the them in 1991 when the Trabant production lines in the city of Zwickau fell motionless for the last time.

Now he has just 20 left.

He said: “Museums, private collectors – even the Hofbrauhaus in Munich – bought Trabis from me. Today I have just 20 left in their original colours – toga white, glacier blue and maple yellow.

“I went east to buy them when I heard about the end of production on November 1991. I wanted to secure the cult-cars for posterity and bought 72 copies of the two-stroke engined cars.”

He paid around £300 each for the new models which he has kept stored in pristine condition ever since.

But automobile experts say the hefty price tag is justified.

Gerrit Crummenerl, a dealer in old eastern European automobiles, said: “It would cost around €10,000 to renovate an old Trabi, so this is a bargain.”

The Trabant became the symbol of the bloodless revolution of East Germany as they thundered west at the breakneck speed of 30mph through the Berlin Wall in the heady days of November 1989.

As the gigantic tides of history swept away the regime that made it the Trabant went from runabout to jokebook in the reunited Germany of muscle cars from BMW and Mercedes.

“Fill it up,” ran one post-reunification gag, “and double it’s value.”

Another: “It has a heater in the back…to keep your hands warm when you’re pushing it.”

East Germany built the Trabant – its name means foot soldier or satellite – out of compressed fabric as the Soviet Red Army stole all the industrial steel machines and shipped them home after the fall of Nazi Germany.

Three million of them were produced in all. And like all things in the lost Socialist Atlantis, they were in short supply.

The best joke of all about them among citizens went like this:

A man in East Germany goes into a car showroom in 1979 to order his Trabant and is told by the salesman that it will be ready to collect on May 1, 1989.

“Will that be in the morning or the afternoon?” asks the customer.

“Morning or afternoon!” thunders the salesman. “It’s ten years away.”

“I know,” he said. “Only I’ve got the plumber coming in the morning…”