1981 Tatra 613

I love Tatra! These are one of the coolest, strangest and most forgotten cars in history, but they also hold an extremely important place as the only rear-engine 8-cylinder passenger cars ever made.

Tatra has a long and colorful history as the third oldest automaker in the world, and have seen nations and governments rise and fall while making cars and trucks the entire time. Their chief designer, Hans Ledwinka, associated with Ferdinand Porsche so closely that Tatra produced a car similar to the Volkswagen Beetle two years before the Beetle came out. It's still a source of controversy to this day who was responsible for the eventual Beetle, but Tatra's contribution is undeniable.

Fortunately, Tatra kept on developing rear-engine ideas which resulted in the brilliant and gorgeous 1936 T77,  a huge, graceful, four-door, 8-cylinder rear-engine monster. It was unlike anything at the time an remains unchallenged to this very day in terms of style, aerodynamics and engineering principles.

Tatra essentially followed up with a predecessor to the T77 for the next 40 years, cumulating in the last major body style, the 613, launched in 1974 and lasting until the late 90s (!). It replaced the curvy, space-age 603 and was a complete departure with less chrome, hard angles and a large greenhouse. Late 70s and early 80s examples like this are the best looking with their classic bumpers and spartan interiors.

This one looks pitch perfect in black over burgundy. The exterior looks complete down to the wheels, and the interior is a period affair but cozy nonetheless. Sitting there on those velour seats in front of big analogue gauges and oversized pre-airbag steering wheel and staring out through the huge airy windows must be a totally liberating experience compared to the overdone, claustrophobic and distracting interiors of today.

Underneath the trunk (how I enjoy saying that for a change) is a 3.5-liter dohc air-cooled 8-cylinder engine good for 165 horsepower directed to the rear wheels. This is the stuff of some people's dreams. It sure wasn't efficient, but it definitely blew Volkswagen's rear four bangers out of the water. The only transmission available was a 4-speed manual. Later cars had fuel injection, but the early versions are noted for their simplicity.

The seller writes in poor english but seem to indicate the engine, brakes and transmission all work and valid documents are present. However, they do mention some rust, and say it would be a project car.

This is a really rare and very cool car and is a personal fantasy of mine to own. I know of only one documented 613 in the US. It's not as desirable as the 603, but this gives off more modern, everyday-driver vibes. I'd love to see an American grab this and bring her over. Depending on the rust it could be just driven as-is or need more work, but it's definitely not a deal breaker. This is a complete example of a special vehicle.

Available here for 8,999 Euros or about $12,500.

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