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Lot 579: Tatra T87 Saloon

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

The name of Tatra is forever linked with that of Hans Ledwinka, one of the most original engineers ever to turn his attention to automobile design. Tatra's chief engineer, Ledwinka began experimenting with the application of low-drag aerodynamics to passenger car design in the early 1930s in collaboration with his colleague Erich ‹belacker and Zeppelin aerodynamicist, Paul Jaray. In 1934 the first of Tatra's 'aerodynes' appeared; this was the T77, the world's first series-produced car designed with aerodynamic efficiency as the foremost consideration. Tatra's advertising hailed it as 'the car of the future', and when compared with its contemporaries the T77 must have looked like it had come from another planet. Just as advanced beneath its streamlined skin, the T77 featured Ledwinka's trademark, independently-suspended backbone chassis and was powered by a 3.0-litre air-cooled V8 engine mounted at the rear, while the extensive use of magnesium alloy for the engine, gearbox, suspension and body kept the weight down to 1,700kg (3,700lb). Although its 60bhp engine was relatively modest in output for a large, six-seater, luxury car, the T77's staggeringly low drag coefficient of around 0.21 meant that it was still capable of reaching 145km/h (90mph). A conventional car would have required twice as much power. In 1934 the T77 was superseded by the T77A, which benefited from a 3.4-litre engine and higher (150km/h) top speed. Although the T77 was fast, economical and comfortable, the handling had sometimes come in for criticism. Introduced in 1936, Ledwinka's response was the T87, which was both shorter and lighter than the T77. Powered by a 3.0-litre V8, the T87 was good for a top speed of 160km/h (100mph). The model resumed production after WW2 and was produced up to 1950, by which time a little over 3,000 had been sold. T87 owners have included Ernst Heinkel, Felix Wankel, Erwin Rommel, John Steinbeck, King Farouk of Egypt, Sir Norman Foster and Jay Leno. This T87 has been comprehensively restored to original specification using new-old-stock or renovated parts, and has covered only 100 kilometres since completion in 2008. Finished in blue with grey interior, this iconic Tatra 'streamliner' is offered with sundry technical documents.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
TypeCar
Lot Number579
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€90000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€103400
Year1948
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number73274
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors