The most cinematic Eastern-bloc car commercial you'll ever see

Mister Scroggs calls this Czechoslovakian TV spot for the 1962 Tatra 603 the "Citizen Kane of long form car commercials." He's only understating it a little.


In 1962, Czechoslovakia was closing in on a brutal recession — the sad underbelly of its central-planning "economic miracle" of the 1950s. The downturn would make buying cars a bit of a stretch, even for the country's pert little bourgeois base. (A few years later, the Russian tanks would roll in to completely ruin the party.)

But when this optimistic little ad was created, Czechoslovakia was a happy place, where motorists were prone to random highway slaloming, running from indifferent motorcycle cops, implying black-tie threesomes, whistling and four-wheel drifting on cobblestones. It was a gothic vision of Beach Boys-era California, filtered through a hazy, beer-soaked bohemian lens with a swing-jazz soundtrack. Bless their hearts, it worked. At least for a while.

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Aaaah, the heavy tail-swing of a rear-engined car, so close so many times to dangerous snap oversteer.

I've loved Tatras from the moment I saw them. This makes me love them more.

And those motorcycles. . . gorgeous. Wonder what they are.