Monday Morning Reality Czech

Ah, the Tatra. Darling of Western car buffs with a penchant for the absurdly obscure. While your neighbor’s frame of reference encompasses only “Accord or Camry?”, you puff your chest and strut like a peacock about the Tatra’s unique traits whenever prompted. Drive by a Czechvar sign? “Did you know the Tatra’s rear-mounted, air-cooled V8 Hemi was made an honorary Resistance member for killing off Nazi officers?” you bellow, as your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/bewildered stranger rolls his or her eyes and tries to remember why they keep you around.
Imagine how annoying you’d be if you had your own Tatra! Glory be, this one is for sale. Begin the geek-out in 3…2…1…

Yessir, that there is a Tatra 603, somewhat confusingly listed as a ’57 but wearing a later grille. I’m sure that’s just a clerical error. Joking aside, this is a really gorgeous example of the breed, and despite me teasing potential buyers about it being the ultimate car geek pinup, these are seriously well-built, fast, comfortable, and undeniably unique cars. This particular example is well-presented, although details are sparse and the price is as plush as those back seats. Good buy? How the hell should I know? I can tell you this, though … “early Tatras, designed by Hans Ledwinka, were ripped off by Porsche for his VW Type 1 designs and VW had to pay out a large cash settlement after the war!”
eBay Motors

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  1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    It was common for Tatras to have more recent looks. After some years they were sent back to the factory and would be refreshed. There was one on ebay last year that looked like it had had a body in the front 'trunk' from the blood stains. They were not explained but in the QA section at the end it was asked how the car came to the US and the answer was vague and alluded to Czech mafia! Anyway these cars a beautiful but their association with Czechoslovakian secret police and later mafia make me feel a little uneasy. It did not help that when I was a little boy in Poland my mom told me that people in big black cars were bad men and to avoid them.

    1. Lotte Avatar

      While I haven't been told outright to avoid big black saloons as a young child, I've already clued in to the relation with 'bad people'. Where I used to live it was black Mercedes E or S. I guess it makes sense that a more-well-off uncle has a baby blue S; it certainly doesn't look badass…
      I'm chalking this one up as "Love it, wouldn't own or drive it."

      1. tonyola Avatar

        It worked that way in the US too. You did not want to see a black Lincoln sedan following you around. The occupants were probably not working in your favor and things might end badly. Few cars have ever been so quietly sinister.
        <img src="; width="400/">

    2. CptSevere Avatar

      I used to have a '71 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 factory limo, and it was one helluva big black car. However, nobody avoided me at the time, and it was a great car to load up with my cronies and head up to lakes, go downtown to clubs, haul band equipment around in, or just take on roadtrips. When I had a big black car, we were just a bunch of goofs having a good time in a great old Cadillac, nothing else.

      1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        Oh no, I'm sure it was great and you too! In the '80s a '70s factory limo (I would sit on the foldaway seats) is how I would get to and from O'Hare, though that one was blue. Also my godfather owned a number of black Volgas and he was a nice man to me at least. (He did have to pay money to Polish mafia as everybody that had something valuable like his nursery and floral business had to.) What I was referring to was that in Poland the secret police drove black Volgas. So parents like my mom would tell their children to stay away from people in big black (that was relative in Poland) cars. That the occupants could be 'bad men.' How else to describe that to little kids? Anyway, so this became sort of a lore for little kids since did not really understand what this was all about, ideas like those bad men were kidnapping people to steal blood/organs for Jews/Germans were examples of the crazy stuff that kids dreamt-up, seriously. There is even a wiki page believe it or not:

  2. RichardKopf Avatar

    Czechvar: the original Budweiser!

  3. muthalovin Avatar

    Tatra is in the 'other makes' section? Yeah, that sounds about right. Also, the eBay listing is pretty delightful.
    Totally insane asking price, however. Well, to me at least.

  4. Black Steelies Avatar

    The closest thing to a wheeled personification of the Hooniverse itself.

  5. Seth_L Avatar

    My people, ladies and gentlemen!
    I should find a Skoda to import.

  6. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
    Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

    <img src="; width="500" height="340" alt="60 monte carlo rally tatra 603's">
    Tatra for makink glorious rally car… strong like bear!
    (photo from 1960 Monte Carlo Rally)

  7. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    I may just have to start a car club for split rear windows now. And since my van's have two rear doors, they qualify too!

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      603 and '63 Stingray. What a coupling!

      1. Van Sarockin Avatar
        Van Sarockin

        Original Beetle…

  8. dukeisduke Avatar

    Lately, I've seen a 603 in a cameo role in a credit card commercial.

    1. Rockford Brodie Avatar
      Rockford Brodie

      I wondered if anyone else noticed that. You think it’s Peggy’s?

  9. tonyola Avatar

    When I was a kid in the bad old commie days, I was utterly fascinated by Tatras. There wasn't much info about them in the West so any picture or tidbit of info was greedily eaten up. Even now, there is something almost otherworldly or Bizarro-parallel-earth about old Tatras. The only other car I can think of that approaches them in wonderful strangeness is the Citroen SM.

  10. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I'm still more of a 613-4 kinda guy, in all its Vignale loveliness.
    But how about its replacement, the T700?
    <img src=""&gt;
    What a honey! Read more about it (randomly on a Polish Lancia enthusiasts site) right here.

  11. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    That's beautiful. Like a slightly fat Iso Lele crossed with an old Audi Avant.
    I agree on the lack of weirdness, but I prefer Phil Collins era Genesis to the early stuff, too…

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Ewww. Phil Collins-era over Peter Gabriel-era Genesis? Do you prefer Wonder Bread over pumpernickel too? Perhaps we shouldn't do lunch…

  12. Alff Avatar

    I grew out of my fondness for Horlicks around the time I got married.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

      1. Alff Avatar

        Don't tell my wife … the professional horticulturalist.

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Outdoor sex is easy with a garden hoe.

  13. Jim-Bob Avatar

    What an absolutely brilliant and wonderful car! If I had that kind of money to spend on a vehicle this would truly be near the top of my list. Hans Ledwinka is one of my heroes and even though the 603 did not come from his had, it nevertheless used engineering that did ( Ledwinka was jailed as a collaborator for 5 years after the war for building snow vehicles for the Nazis and wanted nothing to do with Tatra when he came out of jail. Thus, all post-war Tatras were designed by other people.) Still, it makes me want to reach for my Czeck-book (I couldn't resist!).

  14. autoidiodyssey Avatar

    Finally a use for this pic. A Tatra T603 at the Goodwood Revival.
    <img src="; width="500" height="374" alt="1959-type Tatra T603">

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Oooh, one of the early ones with the triple headlights under glass. I wonder, though, why a rear-engined, air-cooled car would have a scoop on the front "hood"?
      <img src="; width=500>

  15. ptschett Avatar

    A mention of Tatra wouldn't be complete without the movie.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Heh, I hadn't seen that film before – very strange. I think the people in the 603 were really trying to make a run for the Austrian border and freedom. But in that movie is something that goes completely off the scale in car coolness – a Tatra police paddy wagon!
      <img src="; width=450>

    2. ptschett Avatar

      *damn you hoonnibbles*

  16. texlenin Avatar

    Did I mention my birthday was last Tuesday?

  17. Virago1000 Avatar

    More concentional? What a mistake. By first look, it might be. But in that time that shapes were fashionable, think about all of early 70's cars. In fact, 613 and 700 are more-more unique than 603 with its pushrod Hemi v8. 613 has belt-driven 2xDOHC and semi-mid engine unlike rear-engined 603. This is much better for handling. The heater is improved, the top speed and acceleration is still comparable with any modern cars.
    all the best: A 613 owner

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