Gatter cars ran on the roads of Northern Bohemia in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1925 Willibald Gatter (1896-1973) built the model "SCHRECKENSTEIN", an elegant four-seater with swing axes, praised by the press of those days as the perfect model for an "European Car".

Between 1930 and 1936 the "KLEINE GATTER" ("small Gatter") was built in several different models in the Bohemian city of Reichstadt. Models 1930 and 31 were two-seaters, models 1932 and 33 three-seaters and eventually in 1934 a four seater was built.

The KLEINE GATTER was built at a time when cars were still a prerogative of the rich. Willibald Gatter wanted to change this and thus built a small and inexpensive car, for no more than the price of a motorcycle.


Willibald Gustav Gatter (1896-1973)



Prototype in around 1927 in Hühnerwasser, Northern Bohemia, in front of the "Gatterhouse".

The Gatter Car of 1929 in Aussig, Northern Bohemia. In the background the Schreckenstein Castle who gave its name to this model.

At first Willibald Gatter enjoyed a tremendous success. Since his car was affordable also for the lower segments of society the press soon awarded it the name of "Volksauto" or "Volkswagen", meaning "Peoples Car". Adolf Hitler would use this term when he created his "Volkswagen Corp." in 1937 that produced the VW-beatles we all know so well.


Gatter Car Model 1930

Gatter Car "Model 1931"

Despite being of German/Austrian descent, Willibald Gatter did not built his cars in the then prospering "Third Reich", but in his native Bohemia (then Czechoslowakia). When an economic crisis hit Bohemia in the mid 1930s it was the low and middle classes that suffered most. Willibald Gatter lost his now impoverished clientele and by 1936 had to close down his factory.


Gatter Car advertisment of 1931 "Model 1932"



Gatter Car advertisment of 1932 "Model 1933"


After World War II (that had made Willibald Gatter and his family refugees in Western Germany) Gatter intended a remake of his 1930s success. In the early 1950s he again built an affordable small car. But lack of investment capital as well as consumer preference for huge American-style cars made this model never get beyond the prototype stage.
Who knows, had he built this car in our days, he might have had considerable success, since the taste went back to small, cheap and low in consumption, as models like SMART or TWINGO show.



Today probably only one Gatter car is surviving. It is still in the old home region of the Gatters, in Northern Bohemia. I found it there in 1996. It was a bit like a tresure hunt to find a car that my grandfather had constructed some 70 years back. Here is a photo taken at an Oldtimer exhibition. It is a "Model 1932", as shown above in the advert of 1931.



... and finally here a recent article on the Gatter Car published in 1996 in the German magazine "Oldtimer Markt":


In the summer of 2004 I visited the Czech Republic with my family again and we also met the Beran family, the owners of the last Gatter car. They were so kind to take us for a ride in this beautiful Oldtimer. Click on the link to see pictures of this adventure. Below a picture of father and son Beran, at the wheel of their Gatter Model 1932.



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