1936 Tatra T77

1936 Tatra T77 1936 Tatra T77 1936 Tatra T77
Aerodynamic Limousine
Chassis #: 23098
Built for a short period between 1934 and 1935, the Tatra 77 sported a body designed by Paul Jaray, who worked with Tatra's chief designer Hans Ledwinka. Jaray had worked at one time with German airship manufacturer Luftschiffbau Zeppelin, and produced an aerodynamic shape that gave his car superior performance, fuel economy, and reduced cabin noise. The Tatra T77's body boasted a drag coefficient of just 0.21 but this wasn't the only thing revolutionary about the T77. With the engine mounted in the rear, passengers had more legroom and sat lower to the ground, dropping the car's centre of gravity and improving its handling. Power for the T77 came from a 59 horsepower air-cooled 2968cc V-8 engine which gave the sedan a top speed of 87 MPH. Just 105 examples of the T77 were constructed before the automaker moved on to the T77A in 1935. Visually, the most notable difference between the T77 and the late T77A was the addition of a steering-turned central headlight.

Tatra, which is the third oldest automobile manufacturer in the world, after Mercedes and Peugeot, created the first serial-produced truly aerodynamic automobile. 'The Tatra was one of the most interesting and well-developed engineering and design intersections of the Art Deco period,' said car designer Raffi Minasian. 'It may have lacked the usual flamboyance of traditional French coachbuilders . . . but it manifested the expression of Art Deco design as a merger of science and industry where form was dictated by function.'

This T77A Aerodynamic Limousine is an early example that was treated to a 20-year restoration before making its restoration debut at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Its owner brought it on a long, overseas journey of 4,279 miles from the Czech Republic to the concours where it was part of a special and exclusive class featuring the streamlined Tatra automobiles.

Named after the Tatra Mountains, Tatra was a vehicle manufacturer in Koprivnic, Czech Republic that was founded in 1850. Originally beginning as a wagon and carriage manufacturer, Tatra produced its first motorcar in 1897 in Central Europe, the President. This was the first passenger vehicle in Cenral Europe. Tatra's specialty lay in luxury vehicles of a technically advanced nature.

On March 5th, 1934 the Tatra 77 was introduced to the press at the Prague Auto Salon. The Tatra 77 was a sensation as it was the worlds first serially produced aerodynamic car with a rear-engined air-cooled layout. The T77 overtook the world's motor car industry by several decades.

Following completion of the two V570 prototypes, the Tatra team decided that a new aerodynamic car would only be an additional model. This new vehicle was aimed at the top of the automobile market and would be marketed at a very limited production rate.

This larger and more luxurious car was the top priority for Ledwinka's design team and all present development of the V570 was halted. The Tatra T77 was based on the 1933 V570 prototype and used it as a study model. The design team was attempting to keep abreast of the latest technology, architecture and visual arts. The T77 was designed with the goal of being fast, silent and stable and as a reflection of modern aerodynamic research.

The design team led by Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka and his son Erich, believed that the introduction of an air-cooled rear-mounted engine would reduce efficiency loss in the drive shaft and noise and vibration that was caused by the drive shaft. The lack of a drive shaft would mean that the passenger compartment would become more comfortable as there would be no central floor tunnel. Passengers could now sit lower and more forward of the rear axle. The inter-axle weight was now evenly distributed which resulted in a lower center of gravity. The front of the vehicle was shortened while the engine mounted in the rear meant that the tail was extended as long as possible.

Tested extensively by Tatra engineers, the first prototype T77 was only a pre-production prototype though Tatra did produce a brochure for this vehicle. The brochure included photos, descriptions and technical specifications. This vehicle was equipped with a rear-mounted air-cooled 90 degree V8 engine that had a cylinder capacity of 2970 cc and a power output of 60 hp at 3500 rpm. The T77 had an impressive drag coefficient of 0.212.

The Tatra T777 was both massive and roomy, with seating for six. There was plenty of luggage space, housed above the rear suspension and in the nose, where the spare tires and battery resided.

The engine power was propelled to the driven rear wheels by means of a four-speed gearbox that was bolted together with the engine and the axle drive as one big monoblock. Housing the gear-change rods, cables and fuel lines, the monoblock was enclosed by the forked welded box frame of the chassis and could be easily removed from the car for repairs and changing parts.

The T77 was slowly produced on a very small scale, with the vehicles behind almost completely hand-built. These vehicles featured leather upholstery and a well equipped interior and were aimed at the top of the automobile market. In a unique twist, a few models had the steering wheel placed in the center of the dashboard. Other T77's had the steering wheel on the right hand side. The front seat passengers were seated on either side of the driver, and the seats placed slightly back.

The T77A was introduced in 1935. The updated and improved model had an increased V8 capacity of 3.4 liters. The increase was made possibly by enlarging the bore diameter from 75 to 80mm. The output was now increased to 75jp and the maximum speed to 150kph. Three headlamps were now added to the front and the central unit was linked to the steering wheel on several models. Now three different directions of the headlight were possible. The lamp was now capable of being turned with the wheel. Several models were equipped with canvas Webasto roofs.

The driving characteristics of the revised Tatra T77 were vastly improved along with the styling being updated nicely.

In between 1933 and 1938 a total of 255 vehicles were produced of the type T77 and the T77a. Since all models were hand built, no two were exactly alike.

By Jessica Donaldson



Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Tatra
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)
1935Ford (820,253)Chevrolet (548,215)Plymouth (350,884)
1934Ford (563,921)Chevrolet (551,191)Plymouth (321,171)
1933Chevrolet (486,261)Ford (334,969)Plymouth (298,557)
1932Chevrolet (313,404)Ford (210,824)Plymouth (186,106)
1931Chevrolet (619,554)Ford (615,455)Buick (138,965)

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