What's The Trade In On A Trabi?

Eastern Europeans are pouring into car showrooms

It's Saturday afternoon in Prague, and Jiri Vrba and his wife, Anna, are eyeing a Skoda Felicia in a crowded auto showroom. The $9,260 subcompact would replace a 20-year-old Skoda they bought secondhand seven years ago that keeps breaking down. From the $550 a month he takes home as a computer systems analyst and her $210 as a part-time kindergarten attendant, the couple can just manage a downpayment and five-year financing at 8% interest. Vrba is tempted to stick with a locally made Skoda, now that Volkswagen owns 70% of the company and has introduced better styling and engineering. "It's the best value," he says, loading in his two kids for a test drive. "And no problems about waiting for spare parts."

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