Tatra T603 (1957 – 1975) Review

Tatra T603 (1957 – 1975) At A Glance


+Amazing styling, V8 soundtrack, very cool driving experience

-Rust, ownership is a real commitment

The 1957 Tatra 603 was a pure product of its creator, and could clearly trace its heritage back to Ledwinka's first T77 with its trademark rear-mounted air-cooled V8 and room inside for six passengers. The 603 was an update of the concept though – and used a hemi-head 2.5-litre V8. Air scoops were moulded into the rear wings and did an effective job of cooling the car, as well as adding considerable visual interest. The four-speed gearbox was operated by a column-mounted gearshift and early cars featured drum brakes all round, although discs were fitted later. Changes throughout production were gradual, the biggest ones being reserved for the 603-2 of 1967.

Although the engine was reasonably light, it certainly wasn’t powerful – in low compression ratio form (with a ratio of just 6.5:1), the power output was only 100bhp. This wasn’t really man enough to push a car that weighed nearly 1500kg – resulting in a poor power to weight ratio. Acceleration might have been sluggish, but because of the Tatra’s slippery shape, it could almost hit 100mph assuming you could find a long enough road. The later 603-2 had headlights placed further apart in a new grille, and their owners similarly upgraded many earlier cars in later years.