When Fidel Castro Traded a Corvair for a Tatra

The Cold War, and Disgruntled Workers

1w ago

It was the height of the Cold war, and Tatra workers were already disappointed with the Workers State. Under Communism, the state chose who gets to build what, and that meant that Tatra made trucks, and Skoda made cars. The workers didn't take lightly to this, and did protest about how stupid it was for the "leadership to decide who makes cars".

The Zealous Tatra workers didn't stop

In secret, they designed the now iconic, Tatra 603- and with leadership approval, they could now produce the cars too. The workers were so proud, that in a Communist state owned company first, they decided to benchmark it with a similar Western car, just to prove that their Communist 4-door rear-engine Saloon was the greatest.

However, there was only one proper car of that sort, the Chevrolet Corvair. And it was impossible to source one from the iron curtain

Getting a Corvair

Tatra tried smuggling many Corvairs through the Berlin Wall, but most were seized. It was nearly impossible for them to get one, until they checked Cuba.


Often considered the American Car-head's paradise, most Cubans drove around in American cars of the 1950's and 1960's, and it surely was the Eastern Bloc country with enough Corvairs for Tatra employees to benchmark.

Since Tatra can't just walk over to a random Cuban on the street and ask him to hand over his Corvair, mind you, you couldn't just sell your car like we do nowadays there, so Tatra had to ask none other than the Cuban leadership, to lend them a Corvair. Fortunately Castro had one in his garage, which he gladly traded for a Tatra 603, with air conditioning.

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