Daily demonstrations at 11am, free with admission!

Tatra T-700-1996


The Vignale-designed Tatra 613 was introduced in 1975, and was too primitive to attract Western buyers after the fall of Communism across Europe in the late 1980s-early 1990s. Tatra was evaluating two approaches to the new proposed Project T-625 – a front-engined, water cooled sedan, and also a more traditional rear air-cooled option. Unfortunately, Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution” of 1989 left many state-supported industries without clear direction – Tatra included.

With the T-625 project shelved, Tatra enlisted British designer Geoff Wardle to freshen the T-613 into the T-700 seen here. The prototype was produced at the Příbor factory in 1995, and it was introduced to the public in 1996, in six variations. Many differences are visible on the exterior, with smoother lines and a revised front end. More changes were evident in the engine. The first fifteen cars were built with an injected 3.5 liter engine, but the last 14 cars were even more special, with a displacement of 4.3 liters, forged crankshafts, and chemically treated cylinder bores. These last few passenger cars Tatra produced rewarded the driver with 230 HP and 280 lb. ft. of torque. A “regular” car might take 3 ½ hours to cover the 350km from Prague to Kopřìvnice, but the over two-ton Tatra T-700 was able to cover the distance in under 2 ½ hours!

A much-needed front axle redesign was on the drawing board when Tatra pulled the plug on passenger car production. Heavy commercial and military trucks are still produced by the factory, but sadly the world will never know what interesting passenger cars might have come from the inventive minds at Tatra.

Manufacturer: Tatra, narodni podnik
Country of Origin: Czechoslovakia
Drivetrain Configuration: Rear engine, rear wheel drive
Engine: 4.3 liter, air-cooled V8, dual overhead cam, fuel injected
Transmission: 5 speed manual
Top Speed: >100 mph
Years of Production: 1996; last few sold as late as 1999
Number Produced: 29
Original Cost: Unknown