Tatra 613 GT Coupé by Vignale

Car of the Day #30: 1969 Tatra 613 GT Coupé by Vignale

Tatra 613 GT Coupé by Vignale
Tatra 613 GT Coupé by Vignale

Vignale produced some of the most beautiful car bodies for Fiat, Maserati, Ferrari, and Lancia. Full stop.

Vignale worked with companies outside of Italy, too—notably producing the Cunningham C-3 road car and collaborating with Tatra on the 613.

Introduced in 1974 as a replacement for the bulbous 603, the 613 was all-new and designed to look it. Square, crisp lines. Expertly-drawn chrome details, simple Mercedes-like interior…

…all merely a wrapper for an air-cooled 3.5-litre V8 engine in the trunk.

Tatra 613 GT Coupé by Vignale

Until around 1989, however, Tatra was working under the rule of the planned economy of Communist Czechoslovakia—not exactly the best environment for a once-innovative automaker.

Destined for high-ranking (and sometimes chauffeur-driven) government officials, the 613 sedan was not a Vignale design with mass appeal; mass envy would be more accurate.

I'm sorry for burying this so far down in the article, but there's not much information on the 613 GT Coupé prototype that Vignale completed in 1969 in addition to the sedan prototype.

Until, that is, I stumbled on an article about the car from 2022 (I’ll come back to it in a minute).

Turns out there’s a plausible reason we haven’t heard much about the Vignale coupe prototype: it was crashed shortly after being completed and languished for several years in a dark corner of the factory.

A high-ranking party official sniffed it out, and ordered the car rebuilt, resulting in the red version of the car seen online. At that time, its mechanicals were also rebuilt to take advantage of improved Tatra engines, going from the 603 to 613-2 specification. Over time, different engines were fitted as well as a modified rear suspension and axles.

Amazingly, despite spending a few decades in a totalled state thanks to a speeding test driver, the only Tatra Coupé by Vignale still exists. (Who could blame the driver, Josef Chovanec? Imagine having free rein of a 180+ horsepower V8 coupe in a country where animal-drawn carriages were still common!)

“Now fully restored and painted red, I'm sure that some day it'll be restored to its metallic ginger ale green finish and trotted out at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance…”

…is what I wrote about this car about 10 years ago. Since that time, it has been fully restored and brought back to (as close to) its original metallic ginger ale green finish — and still resides in Slovakia.

Tatra 613 GT Coupé by Vignale • via autosalon.tv