Tatra T2-603 - 1968 - Czechoslovakia
Sometimes you get the feeling that some of the Eastern European countries were not all that excited about being in the Communist Bloc.
On many levels, this is quite obvious. On a more subtle level, it is revealed in some of the little things that just seem to happen.
Czechoslovakia had been formed in 1918, after WW I, on the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire out of two primary States, the Czech Republic, and the Slovakia. The Empire had had its luxury automobiles supplied to Heads of State and other dignitries by the automotive producer Tatra, based in Moravia (latter part of the the Czech part of Czechoslovakia).
At the end of WW II, Czechoslovakia found itself in the eastern zone of Central Europe, under Soviet adminsistration. A number of unpleasant events led to the formation of a Communist government in 1948. At this point, under the regulatory framework of COMECON (the Council for Mututal Economic Assistance - not a Sci-fi nerd-fest for man-children in the US), Tatra was ordained to build only truck, after the cessation in 1952, of the post-was T600 4-cylinder passenger car. All luxury automobiles were to be provided on an as-needed basis from the USSR.
However, the enthusiastic Tatra engineers really liked designing cool, rear-engineed luxury cars, so they continued to do so in secret. Since no USSR-built luxury cars had arrived by 1953, the Czechoslovakia Communist Government was fed up with the delay, and ordered the development of a luxury car from their former supplier, Tatra, to be ready in 1954. The engineering team won't expecting things to move quite so quicky, and though the vehicle chassis that they had been working on would be ready in time, the requested 3.5 litre V8 engine would not - it would need to wait another 4-5 years. An interim solution was to use the alrady designed air-cooled V8 of 2.5 litres (known as the T603), as used in the Tatra 87-603 and in a number of racing cars.
The first drivable T603 was complete in 1955, after a number of wind tunnel tests on different body designs. The car was launched in 1956, under the designation Tatra T603 (known as the T603-1 to differentiate from latter vehicles). The series was to run from 1956 through to 1975 in three main series the T603 (or T603-1), the 1962 launched T2-603 and the final T2-603 II, shown (known as the T3-603).
The body was extremely aerodynamic for the time, featuring a 'grille-less' nose. The T603-1 featured 3 headlamps enclosed behind a glass panel, the T2-603 changed this configuration to four lamps. The engine was an air-cooled V8 of 2.5 litres, mounted behind the rear axle, with the gearbox mounted ahead. The engine produce 105 bhp, weighing only 160 kg, due to the aluminium construction and absence of water jackets.
An aerodynamic luxury masterpiece - almost the complete antithesis of an Eastern Bloc automobile - the Tatra T2-603 lego model in miniland scale has been produced for Flickr LUGNuts 66th Build Challenge, - 'Behind the Iron Curtain!' - featuring vehicles made in Communist countries inside or outside of their Communist histories.