1972 Tatra 2-603
T603H, 2.5 L V8 OHV
77.25 kW (105 PS)
Unrestored original condition
Tatra 603 is a car created not by the invisible hand of the free market, but by an unlikely combination of engineering brilliance and a heavy-handed communist bureaucracy. In 1953, the Czech government directed the Tatra company to develop a luxury car that could replace the Russian-made ZISs and Volgas that were being used as transport for the more-than-equal. Type 603 project was born.
The car was designed to be large enough to accommodate six well-fed passengers in comfort; with the V-8 slung out behind the rear axle, the overall length stretched to 4975mm, about the same as the largest contemporary Mercedes-Benz sedan. It was wider than the big Benz, too, by 50mm.
The T603 was shown to the public at the International Motor event in Gottwaldov (the present-day Zlín) in 1955; with the unveiling of the Citroën DS in Paris, it was a banner year for cars that looked as if they had come from other planets. The Tatra was also shown at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, before finally entering production in 1957.
The car was never offered for sale in Czechoslovakia, for all practical purposes. Only party bigwigs, industrial plant managers and the state security forces could get their hands on one. The vast majority of Tatras were government cars, complete with a chauffeur and government license plates that gave them free reign on Czechoslovakia's roads. For the average citizen, the only ride in a T603 came after a 3 a.m. knock on the door. The government did announce in 1958 that the T603 would be sold to ''ordinary citizens without a permit,'' but the price tag was set at $13,725, halfway between a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster. Step right up, comrades, and order yours today!
With only 20.422 examples produced (mostly by hand) from 1957-1975, less that 5.000 are estimated to remain today. With its alien profile, imposing presence, and revolutionary technology, Tatra 603 is one of the great classic car icons.
Our chassis no. 11464 was shipped out of the Kopřivnice factory on December 28, 1971. Finished in the classic solid black exterior with two-tone red/black interior, the Tatra was registered on January 7, 1972 as a company car of the general manager of ZKL Brno, and assigned license plates BMB-49-95.
From 1972 until 1978, the car has been in frequent service at ZKL. The company has been one of the largest and most important state companies, producing industrial ball bearings, with several branch factories around the country. Driven by a company chauffeur, the Tatra 603 has carried the company director to many factory visits as well as meetings at the Ministry of Heavy Machinery and communist party functions in Prague.
In 1974, the car has received a new engine (#10948). Then in 1976, the Tatra has undergone a 3-month general overhaul in CSAZ Brno, the official Tatra service facility, including paint and upholstery refresh.
By the end of 1978, our car has been released from the state company services and purchased by a private individual, Mr. Dvořák, a Tatra aficionado from Třebíč. The new registration plates were TRB-30-70.
Mr. Dvořák held on to the car for more than 25 years, driving it sparsely and carefully maintaining its original condition. At the end of 2014, he finally agreed to sell it to a well-known Tatra expert and restorer. In 2015, the car has undergone a full mechanical overhaul, including engine, suspension, drivetrain, and electrics.
The car comes with the original registration/maintenance book, certificate of historic authenticity, original owner’s manual, first-aid kit, period Tesla AM/FM radio, and one set of keys.
In the world of classic cars, originality, full ownership history and provenance are the key aspects that determine car’s value. The vast majority of surviving T603’s have been either renovated on the cheap, with many non period-correct parts and materials, or completely over-renovated, with none of the soul of the original car left. Combining the wonderful patina of period paint and interior with the reliability of the restored mechanicals, Chassis 11464 is surely one of the most original cars remaining and a true time capsule. This fine 603 is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner and represents a great investment opportunity.