Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tatra restoration

While Shelly and I were traveling overseas for six months I decided to put the Tatra in the shop to address a couple of issues. The immediate issue was the starter motor had failed and I had to hand crank to get her started. The exhaust also needed replacing and there were a number of other, relatively minor mechanical issues to fix. I left the car with Classic Gasoline who had helped sort out the engine when I first bought the car.

The exhaust was replaced and the starter motor overhauled.

The engine out

A new clutch went in as the old one was virtually worn to the metal

The whole gearbox had to come out to fix the leaking boots.When I bought the car the gearbox did not leak, but this was because the oil in the gearbox had turned to sludge. Once the gearbox had been flushed and filled with fresh oil, it became a little like a sieve. I was asked if I wanted the gearbox pulled and rebuilt, but this was not my preference unless absolutely necessary as if problems were found, spare parts could be difficult to source.

Inevitably, while the gearbox was out, the guys did open her up and, as expected, problems were found. The gearbox had been restored using parts of dubious quality and it was probably the fact that the car had rarely been driven over the last 30 years that it had not come apart. Now I had to find another gearbox. Great! Thank God for the internet and Tatra enthusiast forums. After putting the word out I obtained a replacement gearbox, but after assessing it there were some damaged and unusable parts, so the word went out again.

It has taken a long time but I think I have now managed to track down all the parts. I'm now waiting for them to arrive from Czechoslovakia.


With the car laid up it seemed a good time to send her in to the bodyshop. Although it isn't really visible in the photos on this site, the paintwork had many flaws, especially on the car's left hand side where great cracks had opened up. I put the car in the hands of Karson Pasznicki of KPaz Panel and Paint.

The Tatra goes for a ride....

To KPaz

We were all pleasantly surprised to find that beneath the bog the Tatra was in excellent shape. It appears that the car was involved in an accident on its left hand side and this had simply been bogged over. In some places the bog was a good inch and half thick. Beneath the bog was a resinous film from the decomposition of the old primer, but no real rust. The dents were beaten out and prepped with modern primer.

Taking a chisel to the cracked door panels

Despite the appearance of rust, this dark stain was resin from the original 1980s prep.



Signs of damage on the rear panel

Oddly enough the cake layering of bog was carried right under the car. This has all been take off now.

The roof is back to bare metal. Note the seam across the centre. It appears the roof was built in two sections and then welded together by hand.

In primer




We resprayed the Tatra is silver once again because it's just such a 'Tatra' colour, however, when peeling back the layers of paint we discovered that the car was originally dark green.










The car looks fantastic now When the gearbox parts arrive from Czechoslovakia the car can go back to Classic Gasoline to put the engine and gearbox back in.

Back home temporarily

1 comment:

  1. Hello sir, thank you for the article, it is really a beautiful car. Just a reminder - Czechoslovakia doesn't exist since 1993. On another note: It is not always necessary (or even possible) to find original parts. Sometimes they can be repaired or replaced by utilising modern methods, e.g. as presented by Jay Leno on his Restoration blog (threading cracks, laserscanning and casting or 3D printing). Honestly I have no idea about the economy of said methods. I enjoy your blog very much, it seems well researched. Please keep up the good work!

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