Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Monday, 18 July 2005 19:00 UK

Trabant exhaust fumes sold online

Can of Trabant Scent
Trabi Scent gives "Ostalgics" a blast from Germany's communist past

Those with fond memories of East Germany are being offered a new product designed to give them a whiff of the defunct communist state.

They can buy online canned exhaust fumes from the cult Trabant car.

"The smell is something very special and scarce nowadays," said Thorsten Jahn, who sells cans of "Trabi Scent" for 3.98 euros ($4.80; 2.74).

Widespread nostalgia for things East German - nicknamed "Ostalgie" - has sparked heated debate in the country.

Trabi Scent is being sold on Mr Jahn's website, Osthits - which deals in items from the former German Democratic Republic.

'No danger'

"On the roads today you can always smell a Trabant, but there are fewer of them around," Mr Jahn told the BBC News website.

He says the scent is produced by holding cotton wool next to the exhaust pipe of a Trabant, and placing the fume-impregnated cotton in cans.

Trabant cars in East Germany
In East Germany the ubiquitous Trabant ran on cheap, dirty fuel
Inhaling the scent poses no danger as the cotton wool filters out toxic particles, Mr Jahn added.

"It doesn't make people sick - it's not like breathing in the fumes directly. Hundreds of customers have asked for the product - it's a real hit," he said.

As the Ostalgie phenomenon has grown in recent years, some have questioned whether it is appropriate to be sentimental about life under a regime which shot those who tried to escape it.

But Mr Jahn - who is based in the former East German town of Eisenhuettenstadt - says the trend conveys an important political message.

"It is political, there are real differences in Germany and people want to remember the old times."

The Trabant, a cheap car with a plastic body, had a two-stroke engine that was notorious for its smoky, polluting exhaust.

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