One of the most innovative and technically fascinating Tatra T87 streamliners will go under the hammer on 23 – 24 October 2020 with an estimate of $300,000 – $400,000 and without reserve.
Recognised as one of the truly iconic and most influential automobile designs of all time, it was Tatra who allowed Hans Ledwinka to begin experimenting with the application of low-drag aerodynamics in the early 1930s in collaboration with his colleague Erich Übelacker and Zeppelin aerodynamicist, Paul Jaray.
Tatra’s first ‘aerodyne’ was introduced in 1934 and was hailed by Czechoslovakia’s most prominent car manufacturer as ‘the car of the future’. Beautiful in appearance and the world’s first series-produced car designed with aerodynamic efficiency as its primary concern, the T77 looked like it had come from another planet in comparison to its rivals.
The T77 was comfortable, economical and extremely fast but due its sheer enormity was difficult to handle on corners and other less ‘straight-lined’ motoring tasks. Ledwinka’s response was the T87 which was introduced in 1936 and was both shorter and lighter than its older brother.
It featured an incredibly streamlined body built using full monocoque construction on a relatively short chassis with swing-axle suspension, carrying a rear-mounted, air-cooled, magnesium alloy V-8 with hemispherical combustion chambers and a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank.
The end result was robust, sturdy, quiet, spacious, comfortable and could easily cruise up to 100 mph. There was nothing else like it being built anywhere else in the world in the late 1930s.
With brief suspension for World War II in 1943 and 1944, production of the T87 continued through 1950. For decades the design remained “under the radar,” particularly since most of the surviving cars wound up stuck behind the Iron Curtain.
Now the model is fully beginning to achieve the great fame and ovation it deserves as an avant-garde pioneer of advanced engineering and design, and T87s have even been featured in several art museums.
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This particular Tatra features a larger, more powerful 2.5-litre V-8 of the specification used in the successor T603 model and was a late production model; it is surmised that this may have been a factory “interim” installation.
The car was discovered in Slovakia in 2000 and later imported to Australia by an enthusiast who commissioned a concours-quality restoration by Sleeping Beauties of Brisbane, Queensland. The Tatra is beautifully finished throughout and remains in virtually show-ready condition.
Interested parties can find the auction via this link.
Images courtest RM Sotheby’s