How the Ebbelwei-Express started

Ebbelwei Express on siding

The emergence of the "Ebbelwei Express"

‘Every time I cycle around Frankfurt, I’m always pleased to see the Ebbel-Ex. I wave at him as if he’s an old friend and am so glad that he’s still going.’ (Estine Estenfelder)


In January 1977, Stadtwerke Frankfurt (as it was known at the time) commissioned the famous pair of artists CM and Estine Estenfelder to design the exterior and interior of a vintage K-carriage tram. The concept for the tram design was a ‘travelling cider pub’ that would give tourists and residents of Frankfurt a better understanding of the city and its sights.
The Estenfelders worked day and night for almost a month on their designs, models and black and white drawings until they came up with the final specifications for the tram’s motif and colour scheme.
In collaboration with sign painter Rückert, they prepared the true-to-scale blueprints for the motifs that were to decorate the vehicle and decided which colour shades were to be used. The old tram was then painted in the Bornheim depot that was still in use at the time.
The two artists also lovingly covered the interior of the K-carriage with their artwork.
And it wasn’t long before an appropriate name was found: Ebbelwei-Express. But before it could start on its rather special tour of the city, the vehicle still needed some important items such as its own leaflets, route maps and of course its own tickets.
The finished Ebbelwei-Express took its first trip on 7 February 1977 and attracted large crowds of people who were all clamouring to see it.

We are grateful to Estine Estenfelder (Photography and Graphic Design, Elkenbachstrasse 48 A, 60316 Frankfurt am Main, email: estine.estenfelder@online.de) for kindly sharing with us the story of how the Ebbelwei-Express came into being.