Introduced in 1936, the Czechoslovakian Tatra T87 was an improved version of the Tatra Company's model T77, which debuted in 1934 as the world's first production aerodynamic and rear engine automobile. Dr. Hans Ledwinka designed the T87 and was the pioneer of aerodynamic, air-cooled, and rear-engine automobiles. The body design was based on proposals submitted by Hungarian Paul Jaray, who designed the famous German Graf Zeppelin dirigibles. Jaray sued Chrysler over its Airflow model resulting in Chrysler settling out of court. The famed Tucker '48 also borrowed Tatra features including a third 'Cyclops' headlight, rear engine configuration and all wheel independent suspension. A flat-four cylinder 'boxer' engine version of the T87 also debuted in 1936. Ferdinand Porsche based the VW Beetle design on this engine and Tatra sued Volkswagen and won 11 different patents. This T87 is fitted with the 2.97-liter 75 horsepower V-8 alloy engine. The Tatra 87 attained a top speed of 100 mph and had good acceleration while achieving about 19 mpg.
Even thought the Tatra T87 was a rather expensive luxury automobile, the company managed to sell 3,056 copies of it until 1950. The Tatra Company produced passenger automobiles from 1897 until 1999. They still produce trucks and are owned by the American company Terex.
Sold for $280,500 at 2013 RM Auctions - Monterey.
The Tatra T87 was introduced in 1936 and featured a design by Hans Ledwinka. The streamlined body was built using full monocoque construction, which featured a passenger cabin that was safe, quiet, and sturdy. The relatively short chassis had seating for six passengers. Power was from an air-cooled, magnesium alloy V-8 engine with hemispherical combustion chambers and a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank mounted at the rear of the car. The car was suspended by a swing-axle suspension with drum brakes located at all four corners.
The T87 would continue in production through 1950, halting briefly in 1943 and 1944 due to World War II.
This Tatra T87 is a late production model that is believed to be one of a handful built with the 2.5-liter T603 V8 engine. It was found in Slovakia in 2000 and was later imported to Australia by the present owner. A concours-quality restoration soon followed; since that time it has traveled very few miles since the restoration was completed.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2014
Sold for $132,000 at 2015 RM Sotheby's : Monterey.
The Tatra T87 was based upon the aerodynamic principles of Paul Jaray, the pioneering Hungarian engineer. The Tatra T87 was the work of Austrian-born designer Hans Ledwinka, with help from Czech engineer Erich Ubelacker. Ledwinka was with Tatra's predecessor company, Nesseldorfer Waggonfabrik, of Koprivnice, Czechoslovakia, from 1897. In 1927, the company was re-named as Tatra after the prominent mountain range on the Slovak-Poland border.
The Tatra T11 was introduced in 1923 and featured a torsionally rigid backbone chassis with swing-axle suspension and a front-mounted, twin-cylinder air-cooled engine. The T12 continued the formula, while the T17 of 1926 added fully independent suspension and a water-cooled six-cylinder engine. A series of models with air-cooled four-cylinder engines continued through the 1930s.
The T77 was introduced in 1934, which has been considered the world's first serially produced, aerodynamically designed automobile. The T77 was a six-seat luxury car with a rear-mounted, three-liter air-cooled V8 engine and was capable of achieving a top speed of 87 mph. The successor was the T87, making its appearance in 1936. It had a 0.36 drag coefficient and a top speed of 100 mph with modest fuel consumption. Production of the T87 continued until 1950.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2015
This Tatra T87 sedan was purchased by its current owner from Chicago redevelopment entrepreneur Larry Klairmont. It wears an older restoration and has been scarcely driven. The car has a new maroon leather interior and re-chroming and detailing of the brightwork. It rides on wide whitewall tires on body-color wheels. The engine is an overhead cam air-cooled V8 displacing 2969cc and offering 85 horsepower. It has a four-speed manual transmission and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.
The Tatra T87 was produced from 1936 through 1950 with a total of 3,056 examples produced. They were designed by Dr. Hans Ledwinka and were an improved version of the Tatra T77 model.
The Tatra marquee was responsible for some of the most technically sophisticated cars of their time and they have a history that dates back to 1850 when they were founded by Ignac Sustala as a wagon and carriage maker in Nesseldorf, Czechoslovakia. Their unusual approach and controversial designs are attributed to the Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka, who has spent his early career working with automobile and aircraft designer Edmund Rumpler.
His Tatra T11, created in the early 1920s, was designed as a 'people's car' and meant to cater to many people's needs and budgets. The T11 and T12, remaining in production until 1933, were built a reputation for their reliability, durability, and capability.
The Tatra models would feature many innovations such as a horizontally-opposed, air-cooled engine, a fully independent suspension, and a tubular 'backbone' chassis mounting the engine, transmission and final drive at the rear as a single unit.
In 1930, Ledwinka and Erich Ubelacker began work on a new prototype that eventually evolved into the V570. This new prototype used swing axles and a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine and had low drag thanks, in part, to its streamlined bodywork. This aerodynamic body was created with the skill and knowledge of Paul Jaray.
The work of the V570 prototype project resulted in the Tatra T77 model introduced in March of 1934. It is regarded as the first production car designed using aerodynamic principles.
It was one of the most advanced and modern vehicles on the road, however, the time and expense required to create this coach-built vehicle made it too expensive for most customers.
In 1936, Tatra introduced the T87 model. This was meant as a replacement for the T77 and was simpler and relatively more affordable, built on a shorter wheelbase that measured 124-inches. The interior provided seating for six from the Bauhaus-style seating. The T78 incorporated full monocoque construction and was powered by an air-cooled, magnesium alloy V8 engine with hemispherical combustion chambers and a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank. Top speed was in the neighborhood of 100 mph for this sporty vehicle.
Following the German annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, T87 production continued, halted briefly in 1943 and 1944. After the War, production continued until 1950. During the soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Hans Ledwinka was imprisoned for six years. He was later sent back to his native Austria. Ferdinand Porsche's prewar KdF Wagon evolved into the Volkswagen Type 1. This later became known as the Beetle, which not only shared a resemblance to the Tatra T87, but also shared many of the same design philosophies.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009