After delivery of four test locomotives for the new class E 03 (starting in 1968: 103.0) in 1965, regular production was taken up starting in 1969 for the InterCity service (IC 71) planned to start in 1971, but with a new specification sheet. The loads for TEE and IC trains at 200 km/h / 125 mph increased from 300 to 480 metric tons and 800-ton ordinary express trains (D-Züge) were still expected to run at 160 km/h / 100 mph. On the 145 production locomotives – now designated as the class 103.1 – the basic design of the locomotive with the bridge frame, body consisting of five segments, and the three-axle trucks was focused on the prototypes. The same end shape could also be taken from the test locomotives. Externally, the most striking thing was the doubling of ventilation inlet openings by a second, five-part row of vent grills in the lower half of the side walls, caused by a greater cooling air supply due to the locomotives' increased performance. With a main transformer adjusted for maximum performance (continuous tractive performance of 6,250 kilovolt amps / 8,378 horsepower) and extremely beefed-up type WBM 368/17f lightweight traction motors with a continuous rating of 1,240 kilowatts / 1,662 horsepower, the result was a full increase in performance of 25.3% compared to the prototypes – all total an impressive 7,440 kilowatts or 10,116 horsepower. The last thirty units (road numbers 103 216-245) were given a 700 mm / 27-1/2 inch extension in the frame with enlarged cabs in order to realize the expansion of the cabs urgently requested by the crews. After delivery in the years 1970 to 1974, the class 103.1 units immediately took over the new IC trains as well as of course the prestigious TEE trains that had even been partially integrated into the new IC network.
In the beginning the production locomotives up to road number 103 215 were equipped with type DBS 54a two double arm pantographs with type WB 15 Wanisch contact strips as well as upper arm dampers. These special type units were designed for 200 km/h / 125 mph but did not turn out particularly well long term and caused catenary damage in the DB network as well as that of the ÖBB. It was assumed that the cause was contact pressure above the permissible 120 kilo newton. An interim solution was initially just a partial exchange with the standard type DBS 54 with a standard contact strip, all of it designed for a maximum of 160 km/h / 100 mph. By contrast, the last 30 units (road numbers 103 216-245) came from the builder with the type SBS 65 single arm pantograph that had been developed in the meantime. Now road numbers 103 101-215 should also have been equipped with these single arm pantographs, but the industry could not deliver such a quantity under such short notice. The DB thus decided on an unconventional path and had the "old" DBS 54 and the still present DBS 54a units of the first production locomotives replaced starting in 1975/76 by the type SBS 65 single arm pantograph that was just being delivered on the class 111 that was only 150 km/h / 94 mph fast. Several class 103 units were also equipped with the further developed type SBS 67 that differed from the SBS 65 only in a wider spacing of the contact strips (400 instead of 350 mm / 15-3/4" instead of 13-3/4").