The company was founded in 1850 as Schustala & Company, later renamed Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau-Fabriksgesellschaft when it became a wagon and carriage manufacturer. In 1897, Tatra produced the first motor car in central Europe, and one of the first cars in world, the Prasident automobile. In 1918, it changed its name to Kop?ivnick? vozovka a.s., and in 1919 started to use the Tatra badge named after the nearby Tatra mountains in Slovakia.
Tatra is the third oldest car mker in the world after Daimler and Peugeot. During World War II Tatra was instrumental in the production of trucks, and tank engines for the German war effort. Production of passengercars ceased in 1999, but the company still produces a range of primarily all-wheel-drive 4x4, 6x6, 8x8, 10x10, and 12x12 trucks. The brand is mainly known as a result of the legendary Czech truck racer Karel Loprais: in 1988–2001 he won the world\'s hardest off-road race Dakar Rally as many as six times with theTatra 815. At the time of his sixth victory, he was the most successful driver in the history of the Dakar.