The Tatra name, derived from the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, was first used on an automobile in 1919 replacing the NW marque. Tatra engineers led by Hans Ledwinka and E. Ubelacker began experimenting with aerodynamics in the 1930s while crafting a small streamlined car with a rear-engine layout in a backbone frame. The prototype debuted in 1933 evolving into the production model T-77, which debuted on March 5, 1934. It was to be the first serially-produced aerodynamically-styled automobile powered by an air-cooled rear-mounted engine. It had an exceptionally low drag coefficient of 0.21, which was unheard of at the time.
Its successor, the T-87, followed in 1936 addressing many of the handling deficiencies of its predecessor. The drag coefficient was increased to 0.36, which was still remarkable in the era. The current owner's grandfather, Walter, purchased this car in Czechoslovakia in 1975, though it took four years for him to successfully export it to the United States.