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Tatra 603

Communist bloc's most luxurious car

When one thinks of automobiles manufactured behind the iron curtain (former communist countries) what comes to mind immediately is the shoddily built FIAT knock offs and limousines copied from designs of the free market. But unlike the Trabant or Lada, the Tatra 603 was a quality-built rear engine luxury vehicle, which was very streamlined and also very appealing.


The Tatra 603 started production in 1965 under the Czechoslovakian communist government. Since designing was done by Paul Jaray, who was involved in the designing of Zeppelins (giant airships that were built in the 1900’s), the aerodynamics of the old Tatras were even better than the present day modern cars.


Tatra 603 SKkeleton Image


The car was mainly used for transportation of high ranking party officials and large co-operative factory owners. The most striking features of the Tatra 603 included the 3 headlights enclosed under a clear glass cover (the central light was connected to the steering and would move when the steering turned). This 6 passenger car had a front seat that could be pushed back to make a temporary bed. It had a powerful V8, air-cooled 2472cc rear mounted engine.


Until 1975, 20,000 cars were made and some were exported abroad. Even Cuban leader and former President Fidel Castro possesses one.

Fidel Casto in Tatra 603

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