Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Tatra T87

Words & photos: Daniel Bevis

The Tatra T87 was years ahead of its time. Built from the late-1930s up to 1950 by the Czech manufacturer, the model demonstrated an innovative approach to streamlining that enabled a drag coefficient of just 0.36 (which is roughly equivalent to a particularly moist eel). Its drivetrain predated the Volkswagen/Porsche method of mounting an aircooled motor in the rear - indeed, Ferdinand Porsche was later sued by Tatra for cribbing their ideas - although the T87 unit was a muscular 2.9-litre V8, offering 85bhp and a top speed of over 100mph. So it was one of the quickest cars of its era, and being so aerodynamic it used half the fuel of its contemporaries at speed. The sweeping tailfin provided extra stability, and German officers in World War II were generally besotted with 'the Autobahn car'. Although the Nazis also often referred to it as 'the Czech secret weapon', due to the number of officers who died in high-speed T87 crashes...

This pristine example is a 1946 model, owned by journalist and collector Delwyn Mallett. You see it here at Salon Privé, flexing its Central European muscle in the shimmering London sunshine. Click here for more photos.

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