Tatra JK 2500

Tatra JK 2500: The Czechoslovakian Pegasus


The Second World War was a full stop in almost everything. Also in automobile development. And it is that, after 1945 it was time to rebuild a Europe devastated by armed conflict. In this sense, countries such as Italy, France, Germany or the United Kingdom launched themselves into the mass manufacture of small cars designed for the nascent middle classes. In addition, there was also a golden age for the development of sports vehicles.

Something that can attract attention in the middle of a continent reduced to rubble, but that is explained by the need to create an exciting new normal. Suddenly, racing began to flourish again, accompanying the birth and rebirth of companies such as Ferrari, Aston Martin or Maserati. However, the eastern half of Europe did not live under this paradigm. Beyond the Iron Curtain, in the countries of the Soviet orbit, the planned economy of the communist parties used motoring, mainly, as a piece at the service of industrial growth.

Thus, in Eastern European countries the most abundant were tractors, trucks and, exceptionally, small utility vehicles such as the Trabant or the Lada under the FIAT patent. Little or no space for sports cars, which were developed only as almost personal projects without the support of any factory. Just what happened with the Tatra JK 2500. A unique specimen that even today continues to generate strangeness. And it is not for less, since both its design and its mechanics can be defined as the pearl of the East.


When we establish the geographical coordinates for the motor world, we do not take into account the former Czechoslovakia. However, one of the most technologically advanced companies developed there during the interwar period. We are talking about Tatra. Responsible of Futuristic saloons like the 87 V8, this company was nationalized after the victory of the Prague Coup and the arrival of the communist party to power. From that moment on, Tatra focused on the production of industrial machinery, trains and interesting saloons that ended up serving as official cars for the Soviet leaders in Moscow.

However, in the midst of this reconversion, an engineer stood out who did not mind putting in extra hours on a more or less personal project. We talk about Julius Kubinski, Tatra designer since the end of WWII and a staunch racing car enthusiast. In fact, even before the Tatra JK 2500 our intrepid character had handcrafted at least two racing cars. One of them, The JK 2, had its premiere at the 1949 Czechoslovak Grand Prix, being hailed as the first racing car of that country.

jk tatra 2500

Quite an achievement for Kubinski, who built it by assembling parts of several VW Type 82s - very common as they were abandoned by the Germans in their flight - with the V4 of a Lancia Appia. A success that encouraged him to present his new idea to the management of the company: to build the first Czechoslovakian GT. As interesting as it is unrealistic pretense, since clashed head-on with the role reserved for Tatra by the new communist bureaucracy. However, as Zora Arkus Duntov later did with the Corvette SS and Grand Sport, Julius Kubinski began developing the project in 1950 at his own risk and expense.

jk tatra 2500


Now let's imagine the situation. Kubinski alone and without any support in his quest to create a sports car at the height of the Alfa Romeos of the moment. Armed only with his tools, a small garage and a multitude of loose parts with which to do the “frankenstein”Which would end up being the Tatra JK 2500. And that is, let's review. To get started, the chassis is handcrafted, uniting various components taken from the military VW Type 82 that cropped up by all the gutters of the country. The steering linkage was also taken from this vehicle.

jk tatra 2500

Not so the drum brakes and the tires, all taken from an Aurelia B20 of which, unfortunately, we have no references on how it could have reached the other side of the Iron Curtain. Regarding the engine, first it had a six-cylinder in line of 2 liters and 6CV manufactured by Alfa Romeo. An interesting option, which finally did not get to be validated. And it is that, after several attempts with various engines from the factory itself, the Tatra JK 2500 temporarily had a handcrafted engine created by Kubinski himself from various spare parts.

Of course, connected to the four-speed manual gearbox corresponding to the Alfa engine. However, and since Kubinski wanted to make things easy for the factory for the Tatra JK 2500 to reach series, he decided to install the 8-liter V2 and 5CV of the Tatra 75 saloon. Of course, surrounded by huge difficulties, since had to complete the engine with various spare parts and an ineffective carburetor from the Tatra 805 military truck. An infernal puzzle that was finished with the need to create the body himself.


With this precarious situation, Kubinski was planted in 1955 after five years of artisan work. Unsurprisingly, the management was not at all interested in the Tatra JK 2500. However, some of Kubinski's colleagues, as well as the test drivers, did pay attention to the prototype. So things, the Tatra JK 2500 was officially recalled to company headquarters, beyond the small workshop where our lonely engineer had worked for years. There, and thanks to his new contacts, he got the factory to agree to manufacture five experimental units at the Koprivnice plant.

jk tatra 2500

In addition, Tatra offered Kubinski the T603F engine, just the one our engineer thought was ideal. An accolade from the management that doubled the power of the Tatra JK 2500 to 140CV. A rounded advance with two weeks of fine-tuning by testers Alois Mark and Adolf Vermirovsky. Work in which top speeds of more than 200 km / h were reached. All in all, a most striking achievement under the circumstances. In fact, perhaps too much. Because a few days later the government paralyzed the idea of ​​manufacturing this sports car in series.

A setback when everything seemed to be going well, which ended the project for good. Against this background, the Tatra JK 2500 remained Kubinski's personal car for 13 years, until in 1971 he sold it to a private individual. Moment in which the track of the car is lost. Totally because even long investigations into the possible history of this unique model have managed to reveal not a single reliable data. As things are, we can only wait for some unexpected chance, being able to one day give the news that this interesting handmade prototype has appeared in an abandoned warehouse.

What do you think?

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Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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