When Czechoslovakia moved from a democracy to a communist state, the centralized planned economy appointed Tatra to be the manufacturer for big automobiles with an engine displacement of over 2000cc. The T603 model was unveiled to the public in 1955 at the International Motor Event in Zlin, and production of the all-steel monocoque saloon started in 1957.
The Tatra T603 is the modern descendant of the original T77, with a body design that evolved from the aerodynamic styling begun in the early 1930s. The more modern T603 was the first Tatra to have an all-new air-cooled 2.5-liter OHV V8, rack-and-pinion steering, independent suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers in the back, and struts and coil springs up front. The 603 has a steering column-mounted shifter mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. Built from 1956 until 1975, the production of the T603 included three generations, retrospectively named Type I, II, and III. As with other Eastern Bloc limousines, these cars tended to be used around the clock. Various communist government used T603s as official sedans, often sharing them between government agencies, so very high annual mileages of over 60,000 or more were not uncommon.