The Lane Motor Museum has the largest collection of Tatras (although sadly no T-77), and I promise a good look at them as soon as I can find a few free hours. But down in the bowels of the basement, we spotted this T-613 Ambulance, from the 1980s. Given that the 613 has a rear-mounted 3.5 liter air-cooled V8, a rear-loading ambulance might not seem like the best task for this chassis. But then, it was the only chassis available at the time that could also be fast too, so the body was made tall, and the gurney rests right up over the engine. At least the patient can be distracted by the blower howl and other mechanical noise of the engine on the way to the hospital.
I couldn’t get a shot of it from the side, so this one is from Lane’s very comprehensive web site. The gurney rolls in from the rear hatch, and there’s a seat alongside it accessible from the side door.
Supposedly, its top speed is 100 mph. And this is one of just 14 made. I’ve always wanted a ride in a Tatra, but I’m not sorry to have missed one in this.
Jason Shafer encountered a T-613 sedan on the street in Memphis, TN, and his write-up can be found here.
Okay, I’ll bite. Where on earth did the rear-mount air-cooled V8 get the air with which to cool itself? No grille…no intakes on the fenders…hmmm. Seems like a bad idea to get all your airflow from under the car unless some clever ducting was involved, and then you run the risk of ingesting water/snow/dirt.
Very cool overall though, and impressive that they have one of only 14!
There are large louvered grilles on both sides on the rear quarters, in the red band. Take a closer look.
Yep, missed those. Mystery solved!
Has the side view from the museum’s web site always been there? Didn’t see that on my first reading, but maybe I scrolled before it loaded. They’ve very clear in that view.
I have liked the late Tatras. Luxury cars are somewhat associated with capitalism but the V8 Tatra T-613 made it through the many years of communism only to succumb to the newly opened doors of capitalism’s return.
Now if only Porsche’s Panamera had debuted with an air cooled V8 in back. There were some concepts of 4 door 928s in the eighties that have me wondering if an air cooled V8 would have fit under the hatch. Think of what Porsche could have saved on their rope drive.
The Mythbusters tv show did a test of a 928 with the body mounted on backwards
Nice, in a goofy kind of way. Make do with what you got!
Thanks for this post. My recollection of a T-613 goes back to 1995, and also involves a service vehicle, but not what you might think…
This was my second time visiting the lovely Salzburgring race track. That year the assistance vehicles on hand where T-613s:
There’s even a video, would you believe. See it in (somewhat hilarious) “action” here, from 02:05:
Loading from the rear didn’t seem to be a problem for Volkswagen:
Actually it’s not a bad arrangement if they were using the old-fashioned gurney that folds its legs when pushed into the vehicle. Looks like the attendants in the mid-section could stand up and deal with the patient conveniently at waist height.
Yeah theres a replica VW Kombi ambulance around here hardly the vehicle for a rushed emergency split screen VWs are not fast by any stretch of the imagination, The Tatra is reminisent of the three door panelvan ambulances built in Australia mixing side pressings from station wagons and panelvans for the side access door, I like it though I’ll easily miss ac ride.
Nice shape. I’d like to see a performance and speed comparo between classic ambulances one day.
Are you saying that Top Gear’s effort didn’t count?
I saw a circa-1970 ambulance of the type Bryce describes a month ago.
Don’t watch it, but I should have figured.
I spy a DKW Schnellaster in the background. The Lane Museum is now on my Bucket list. Can’t wait to see more photos of motoring treasure.
I just flipped through all the tatra links and ended up with the tatra 603 “happy journey”
I have never been that much into European cars but if my lottery ticket ever does come up I must pick up a couple of 603’s and put the local constabulary thru their paces!
I woke up one day and realized that I was, in fact, an ambulance junkie. I own a ’93 Horton Mini Mod that I use to transport my ’65 Cinquecento to meets, and I’m embarrassed to say I now know as much about ambulances as many EMTs. This Tatra shows how you makes what you can out of what’s available, as it’s all wrong as a base for an efficient ‘lance, except for the kind that moves patients between hospitals at highway speeds.There can be little room inside for life support mechanisms, and none for rescue operations, except what can fit in the front trunk. so its role should be very limited (in a world with the luxury of choice). There’s no advantage to a truck that can go 100 mph, except on a race track… you simply can’t go that fast safely on the street. So, communities that can afford them have helicopters. So much of the wheelbase is taken up by what doesn’t help in the job at hand. That’s why most light duty emergency vehicles in the U.S. are cutaway vans (though super space-efficient Sprinters may supplant many of them). The lift height isn’t a problem; ambulances here have have floors 33″ high (max.), or 38″ (4 x 4s). Wonder if it’s a diesel. Compression ignition engines are stipulated by federal code because they run cooler. Fascinating vehicle, though!
This is a close relative of the safety car that hit Taki Inoue.