HomePick of the Day1966 Tatra T603

1966 Tatra T603


The 1966 Tatra T603’s unique front styling, a step up from its former three-headlight form

The strangely appealing Tatra T603 is yet another unique product from the Eastern Bloc, a hand-made Czech luxury car with a rear-mounted V8 designed for the elite of the Soviet-dominated society, such as Communist Party bigwigs, diplomats, military brass and industry leaders.

Rarely seen in this country, the Pick of the Day is a 1966 Tatra T603 that was on longtime display in a museum before being refreshed by a subsequent California owner and now listed on ClassicCars.com by a Missouri classic car dealer.

The Tatra T603 incorporated advanced aerodynamic concepts

“Finished in a stunning Sky Blue with a beautiful Dark Blue interior; the previous owner of this magnificent motor car acquired it from a museum, where it had been on display for many years,” the dealer says in the ad description. “It is in mostly original condition and drives and performs exceptionally well.”

Though decidedly odd-looking in a streamlined sort of way, the T603 seems downright conventional compared with the three-eyed, fin-backed sedans of Tatra’s earlier days, cars that have become beloved attention getters in recent years at car shows and concours events. This T603 should also garner plenty of looks, especially in what appears to be immaculate original condition.

“Truly one of the nicest examples of this extremely rare and sought-after motor car,” the dealer states. “A collectors dream!”

Tatra was known for its innovative and technologically advanced creations under the leadership of visionary engineer Hans Ledwinka, whose fascination with aerodynamics shows in his avant garde designs. There is strong evidence that Ferdinand Porsche was inspired (or stole) the design concept for the original Volkswagen beetle from Ledwinka’s concepts, although Tatra’s protests at the time were pretty much drowned out when Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. In 1965, VW paid off Tatra to settle the controversy.

The air-cooled V8 engine is located in the rear of the Tatra

The Tatra has a 2,545cc air-cooled V8 engine hanging out behind the rear axle that produces 100 horsepower, enough to motivate the relatively light car although the rear weight bias reportedly results in some interesting oversteer. The T603 was admired for its luxurious drivability during the 20 years it was produced.

The gallery photos with the ad listing show the apparent nice condition of this unusual sedan. In contrast with the cutting-edge body design, the interior looks fairly straightforward with seating for six.

The asking price seems reasonable at $39,900 for a car that definitely will stand out anywhere it goes.

For a look at how Tatra originally marketed the T603, take a look at this whacky 1962 video on YouTube that shows the all-conquering Tatra terrorizing the Czech countryside and befuddling the local police.  Get ready for some weird whistling.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


  1. The Tatra came out before WWll, and was NOT a Eastern block invention as you have implied. Nazi Generals loved the car for its speed, handling, and more, Following the War the Check company continued to produce the tatra, with little change under the Soviet Unions control. I do not think you meant to say it was a Soviet product but you left that impression that it was one they Invented….

  2. The video is a must see for the “What the ..!” factor if nothing else. I kept thinking What is the point here, to show how recklessly you can drive a car and disregard the safety of everyone around you while ragging your new car completely out? It was amusing and befuddling at the same time. The piece de resistance was coming down from the hill climb. And the point was…? Weird, crazy video, but worth a gander for the amusement factor. I think I’ll drive home from work like that today and see if a cop comes up and shakes my hand at the end. Wild stuff.

    • I know, isn’t that video crazy? I love how the passengers just sit there like nothing’s wrong. Ridiculous.

      • Yup, an unexplained road adventure consisting of two older guys with a young gal all in the front seat placidly riding along and the driver them out, but then they’re back in somehow and then they’re out again and then we point out the moron up on the hill to the police and then he somehow has a helmet on all of a sudden at the end. The only thing that would’ve been slightly more realistic would have been to see him flip a couple of pedestrians right over the roof. I’ll admit I was disappointed that I didn’t get to count wheel covers coming off during the “chase”. That’s some sweet cinema though right there. Then too, it actually makes more sense than some other foreign productions I’ve seen ; )

  3. OldFoxBob, the reference to Eastern Bloc specifically regards the Tatra T603, not Tatra cars built before that.

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