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Tatra Cars

Tatra Cars - Over 10,000 classic, collector and current cars and trucks at RemarkableCars.com

Tatra Cars Pictures

1934 Tatra T75 Convertible Coupe 1934 Tatra T75 Convertible Coupe
Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
Pinellas Park, Florida
1938 Tatra T97 1938 Tatra T97
Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
Pinellas Park, Florida
1940 Tatra T87 Sedan 1940 Tatra T87 Sedan
RM Auctions
Location: Amelia Island, Florida
Auction Results March, 2009 $121,000
1942 Tatra T87 1942 Tatra T87
Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
Pinellas Park, Florida
1949 Tatra T600 Tatraplan 1949 Tatra T600 Tatraplan
Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
Pinellas Park, Florida
1967 Tatra 603 Limousine 1967 Tatra 603 Limousine
Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
Pinellas Park, Florida

Tatra Cars

While relatively unknown in North America, Tatra manufactured some of the most technically sophisticated cars of their time. The marque traces its lineage back to 1850 and was founded by Ignác Šustala as a wagon and carriage maker in Nesseldorf, later known as Koprivnice, Czechoslovakia. Tatra's decidedly unusual approach to automotive design can be directly attributed to the work of Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka, who spent his early years working under pioneering automobile and aircraft designer Edmund Rumpler.

Beginning with the T11, conceived in 1921 by Ledwinka as a "people's car", many design innovations found their way onto later Tatra models, including a horizontally-opposed, air-cooled engine, a fully independent suspension, and a rigid, tubular "backbone" chassis mounting the engine, transmission and final drive at the rear as a single unit. The T11 and T12, produced until 1933, were renowned for their durability, reliability and excellent road holding.

Starting in 1930, Ledwinka and Erich Übelacker began work on a new prototype, incorporating swing axles and a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine. Further evolution resulted in the V570, with low drag, radically streamlined bodywork influenced by the aerodynamic research of Paul Jaray. The resulting T77 was introduced in March 1934, and is considered the first production car designed using aerodynamic principles.

The coachbuilt T77, however, was not a strong seller, due to its high cost. Its successor, the T87, was both simpler and relatively more affordable, with a shorter wheelbase. Somewhat sportier, the T87 still offered comfortable seating for six, with full monocoque construction, providing a sturdy, safe and quiet passenger cabin, complete with Bauhaus-style seating. Meanwhile, the air-cooled, magnesium alloy V8 engine was upgraded with hemispherical combustion chambers and a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank.

The T87 was renowned for its high-speed cruising capabilities, as well as its top speed of 100 miles per hour. Following the German annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, T87 production continued, halted briefly in 1943 and 1944. Postwar, the cars continued in production until 1950, and sadly, with the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Hans Ledwinka was imprisoned for six years before eventual repatriation to his native Austria. In the meantime, Ferdinand Porsche's prewar KdF-Wagen evolved into the Volkswagen Type 1, later known as the Beetle, which bore more than a passing resemblance to the T87, and one can only wonder if the T87 influenced the design of Preston Tucker's innovative but short-lived line of cars.

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Tatra Cars - Over 10,000 classic, collector and current cars and trucks at RemarkableCars.com