DAF and Tatra are partners in the trucking business and to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Czech manufacturer, a compelling collection of their classic cars and trucks is temporarily on display in the DAF Museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
April 2 is the last day of the exhibition, then all vehicles and other items will return to their homeland, the Czech Republic.
The starting point, a transparent garage in the center of a much bigger garage.
1933 Tatra 57 “Hadimrška”. The type 57 was a series of two-door compact cars, built from 1932 to 1949. There was also a military version.
1928 Tatra 30. With a front engine, just like the type 57 further above.
1984 Tatra 613 Landaulet. Saying it’s rare is an understatement, as only five of these were built. The one in the DAF Museum had never left the Czech Republic before.
Just like the 613 sedan, it has an air cooled, 3.5 liter V8 in the rear and good performance to boot.
Now about that miniature model of an ambulance, sitting next to the Landaulet, here’s the real thing.
Some other downsized classic Tatras.
Tatra 603, more specifically a 603-1, given its three headlamps. The center lamp rotates when cornering, the outsiders are fixed. The 603-series was introduced in 1956.
Nothing to add here, a wonderful piece of technology. The type 77 was the first of the legendary Tatra streamliners.
1948 type 87, Tatra’s magnum opus. Its production run started in 1936 and ended in 1950.
Tatra’s last stand in the passenger car market was the 700, which was merely a restyled 613. Only a small number was built in the second half of the nineties and Tatra rolled into the new millennium as a dedicated truck maker, specialized in sublime off-roaders for civil and military use.
The Wall of Fame, yet only a small part of it.
The Tatra brand and its history are fascinating. Maybe even mythical. A brief photoreport won’t do it justice, there are simply way too many hallmarks that stand out. Therefore, Paul Niedermeyer’s in-depth Automotive History article is a must-read.
Part two will follow soon, trucks only. Plenty of ground clearance and these were diplayed without the red Do-Not-Enter VIP cords around them, so I could also take a good deal of pictures of their distinctive underpinnings.
Automotive History: Hans Ledwinka’s Revolutionary Tatras by PN
Curbside Classic: Tatra 603 – This Could Have Been The First New Post War Cadillac, Olds, Studebaker, Or? by PN
CC Video: ‘Happy Journey’ In a Tatra 603 by PN
Museum Classics / Twofer: 1949 And 1952 Tatra T600 Tatraplan – Two Halves Almost Make a Whole by T87
CC Capsule: 1949 Tatra 600 Tatraplan – The Four-Cylinder Tatra by PN
Curbside Classic: Tatra T-613 – Elvis Drank Slivovice Instead Of RC Cola With His Clam Chowder And Moon-Pie by JS
You know… as long as the world had (has) Tatra and Citroen — the AI-generated car designs really don’t look all that implausible. 😉
In 2007 I visited the Tatra Museum in Kopřivnice. I was able to find the town on a map and drive our rented VW Polo there but I have no idea how to pronounce the word “Kopřivnice” . At the gift shop I got a T87 model – a one piece ceramic casting in about 1:25 scale. Outside the museum was the Tatra “Slovak Arrow” railcar – another example of quirky Czech styling.
The T613 ambulance model looks very much like a Mercedes W124 ambulance. The odd slab sided and high rise body work on the Mercedes is from Binz (not “Benz”); I bet that Tatra used the same company for the conversion.
Matchbox made a Binz Benz ambulance of the Fintail era, which I and perhaps others here also own. As a kid I found Binz Benz confusing at first, then funny.
Those are some nice looking and interesting cars.
JOHANNES, What an informative article and fantastic photos. Thanks so much, you really made my day.
Awesome, looking forward to the trucks.
Johannes, thank you so very much for this write-up. I was invited to come visit the DAF-Tatra display, but alas, due to a medical condition I can no longer travel by airplane. I’ve seen a couple of photos, but your are much better!
I’ve owned & imported several Tatra cars here in America, and still have a T2-603 with an early serial number of 4739, that was factory updated in 1968 including 4-wheel disc brakes, full syncro gearbox, PAL electronic ignition, etc. When it comes to the T-77 and T-87 cars, my brain say I must have one of each, but my wallet says “Oh no you don’t!”
In a 1997 visit to Germany to celebrate 100 years of Tatra, I was offered one of the T-613 cabriolet cars, but I knew it would be too expensive to try and make it conform to the US DOT and EPA requirements.
As for the models in the photo, in addition to about 75 Tatra miniature cars & trucks, I have the Silver T-87, 2nd from bottom, at right, and the T-603 featured in red at the top. Both are original aluminum castings, but my 603 is dark blue.
About 1992 I was a vendor at the big Fall Carlisle event where I had a sign that says: WANTED: anything for Tatra cars & trucks. A man walked up with a vintage blue plastic 1:18 scale battery powered Tatra T-603 in the original box, and I bought it. 2 hours later another man walked up to my booths with the same toy in red plastic. [I bought it too!]
Bill, I knew you’re a major Tatra fan, specialist and owner, so thanks for the compliment!
I didn’t know about the DAF-Tatra partnership. When I worked for PACCAR (now over 40 years ago) the corporation was just beginning to expand with the acquisition of Foden. As someone who was fascinated by 603’s (plus the rally DAF’s, for that matter) from a very young age, I could never have imagined any connection between all-American Peterbilt and Kenworth, and Tatra. Thanks for this pictorial feast; the 700 is new to me.
DAF supplies the engines and cabs for the Tatra Phoenix trucks and tractors. More in part two, of course.
I’m so sorry to miss this! It looks splendid; so much to take in. Thanks for being my eyes for me there.
I’m particularly struck by the display of the T77 engine, transmission and rear axle. It looks just like the one Hitler was smitten by at the January 1933 Berlin Auto Show (picture below). I suspect that Tatra stashed it away in its warehouses somewhere. Why else would they have another?
It certainly says “Prototyp 1933” on top of the display (that sign came with the unit, it definitely wasn’t bolted on in Eindhoven). So that adds up.
For all things Tatra dont forget this little museum in Bratislave
Great post Johannes, beautiful cars…
The original Dr. F. Porsche used many of the designs from Tatra, I believe. Rear engine and air cooling. In 1966 our family drove behind the iron curtain to visit my Dad’s homeland in Czecholvakia. I saw a few black 3 eyed Tatras. Left quite an impression with an eleven year old!
Actually not, despite it being commonly repeated. Porsche (and several others) was working on rear engine cars before Tatra was. Here’s my deep dive into that subject:
Paul, had not read this before. Wonderful research! It proves life is complicated and not always what it seems.
What a great exhibit. Thanks for reporting on it. I have had the good fortune to be introduced to Tatra by some Citroen friends. Although I never had a ride, I did get a close-up view of both a T77 and a T87. Amazing machines. A friend who lives relatively close has a 613 that he occasionally brings out. The photo is from the last time I saw it in 2021.
Automotive bliss! Tatra exists in some alternative timeline and thank god it exists.
Johannes, you did it again! Thank you for this. I look forward to the rest of this series. I learned of Tatra as a youth because, frankly, I love automobiles – and trucks, which I have sold. So, more news on the vehicle that was christened Tatra because it was strong enough to negotiate, or climb I think it was written, the Tatra Mountains is right up my alley.
Thx for this. As an American kid visiting my German grandparents, they would sometimes take me on a bus from their little village to visit relatives in East Berlin. Seeing 603s on the Berlin streets was an amazing site. I was fascinated by their 3 headlights and dashboard that looked so much like my American grandfathers ‘54 Ford. At the time I had no idea what these were. When I asked my Granfather, he’d just say they belonged to someone important – but not quite important enough to rate one of the Russian cars I mistook for an American Packard. For a supposedly classless society, the DDR sure had stratified cars choices for the elites.
I visited this show a few months again. Very good impression by Johannes. Looking forward to part 2.
Many of my photos are almost the same because of space restrictions 🙂
Quite right, taking pictures of the big trucks was much easier, from every point of view. More daylight there too.
Thanks Johannes! Somehow I did not know this Tatra exhibition was going on in the DAF museum. I will go and have a look for myself. Thanks for the reminder!
Enjoy the warme appelflap in the Daffetaria!
Great tour – thanks
We were due to go to Eindhoven 3 years ago to see a French friend but COVID got in the way and she has now moved to France anyway….aaaagh!!!!!!!!!