Prague to Pebble or Bust Update: The Tatra 603 Has a Ticket to Sail


(Bremerhaven, Germany) The old Tatra 603 made it to Bremerhaven. Honestly I would have given the old car about a 20 percent chance of actually driving the 1000 Kilometers from Liberec, in the Czech Republic where we bought the car, to Prague, to the port at Bremerhaven.

We made it! We got our ticket to sail on the Roll on and Roll off boat: Wallenius Resolve. The Tatra 603 is now at the port awaiting the ship to Baltimore, Maryland.

All the credit belongs to the team TFL and the kindness of strangers. I’m especially grateful to Mr. Busek, the previous owner and his buddy, who became our chase team all the way to the port in Germany. Imagine buying a car and the owner says I’ll follow you the next 700 miles with tools to make sure the car makes the trip. Plus I’ll be happy to give you a ride back home when we leave the Tatra 603 at the port.

That’s exactly what Mr. Busek did and without his help this epic road trip would not have been possible.

The team poses for a pic in Wolfsburg
The team poses for a pic in Wolfsburg

Also, the fine folks at Volkswagen deserve mention for being such wonderful hosts at VW’s hometown of Wolfsburg. Not only did they lend us a Skoda Superb to serve as our chase car, but they also put us up for the night at VW headquarters and showed us the car equivalent of Disneyland that is AutoStadt. We’ll have a complete video report from Wolfsburg as part of the upcoming series.

Now, for the bad news. The Tatra’s transmission gave up the ghost when we arrived at the dock. The funky shifter popped out of the column and the car is almost impossible to shift into gear now.


Am I worried?

Of course I am.

It will be next to impossible to find spare parts in Baltimore when the car arrives on July 7th. Today, while Tommy and me are still in Prague, we are on the hunt for the bits and pieces that hold the Tatra stalk inside the column. That means another daylong round trip to Koprenice in the Czech Republic where the Tatra 603 was built.

Am I upset? Not in the slightest. We just drove a 45-year-old communist era car on a 1000 km trip at autobahn speeds averaging almost 81 MPH without a hiccup. That’s just plain insane. And now the car is at the dock and getting ready to sail.

We were blessed with the kindness of strangers and with a series of miracles that enabled us to not only legally register the Tatra 603, but insure it, drive it across Europe, and export it to the United States.

I’m over the moon and I can’t wait to see how we’ll bodge it back together to drive it across all of the United States to Pebble Beach.

Please stay tuned for videos from the European leg of the trip and follow us on Twitter @TFLcar #Prague2Pebble for live updates as we hunt for parts today. Now, I have to hit the road again.