1941 Tatra T87

1941 Tatra T87 1941 Tatra T87 Sold for $280,000 at 2012 Bonhams - Quail Lodge Sale.
The Czech firm of Tatra is one of Europe's oldest car makers with a history that dates back to 1850. In the pre-war era, their T87 model was one of the most advanced cars for its time, combining streamlining with a radical layout that heavily influenced Dr. Ferdinand Porsche's design of the Volkswagen Beetle. The similarities were so profound that Tatra subsequently sued the German company for infringing 11 different patents.

Design features unique to the Tatra include the 'cyclops' third headlamp, rear fin and full unibody construction with belly pan. These, along with its other aerodynamic features, allowed the T87 to nearly reach 100 mph. Power was from a rear-mounted 2.9-liter magnesium alloy, air-cooled overhead cam V8 that offered 85 horsepower. Suspension was fully independent, with hydraulic brakes.

Between 1936 and 1950, just over 3,000 examples were built. Though advanced for its time, sales were sluggish.

The late Martin Swig acquired this T87 after using it on a rally in the Czech Republic in the early 2000s. The car wears an older restoration that was done in the Czech Republic.

In 2012, the car was offered for sale at the Quail Lodge Sale in Carmel, CA presented by Bonhams Auction. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $280,000, including buyer's premium.


By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2012
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



Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Tatra
1946Ford (468,022)Chevrolet (398,028)Plymouth (264,660)
1942Chevrolet (254,885)Ford (160,432)Plymouth (152,427)
1941Chevrolet (1,008,976)Ford (691,455)Plymouth (522,080)
1940Chevrolet (764,616)Ford (541,896)Plymouth (430,208)
1939Chevrolet (577,278)Ford (487,031)Plymouth (423,850)
1938Chevrolet (465,158)Ford (410,263)Plymouth (285,704)
1937Ford (942,005)Chevrolet (815,375)Plymouth (566,128)
1936Ford (930,778)Chevrolet (918,278)Plymouth (520,025)

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