First long-distance journey in Tatra car 125 years ago

NW Präsident

The NW Präsident set off with a crew on a 328-kilometre-long journey to Vienna on 21 May 1898. They arrived a day later. The car’s average speed was 22.62 km/h.

Leopold Sviták's team,  which in 1897 built the first Central European automobile,  Präsident.  | Photo: Technické muzeum Kopřivnice

The history of the Tatra car company goes back to 1850, when Ignaz Schustala, with the help of two journeymen, started producing carriages and, thanks to his high-quality products and business skills, was able to build his small business into one of the most successful companies in Europe.

In 1897, the company started making a car with an internal combustion engine, the very first one not only in Austria-Hungary, but in the whole of central Europe. The NW Präsident car, built by Leopold Sviták, who was assisted by the future famous designer Hans Ledwinka, came out in the spring of 1898.

Its first journey was to Vienna, 328 km away. The journey took 24.5 hours, of which 14.5 hours were spent driving. The average speed was 22.62 km/h.

NW Präsident | Photo: KapitanT,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0

In Vienna, the NW Präsident was presented as part of an exhibition celebrating the fifty-year reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I.

The famous car returned to Czechoslovakia in a modernized form in 1918 and became the basis for the National Technical Museum’s automobile collection, where it is still on display today.