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Tatra T77

Love affaires

There are stories that are almost too good to be true. This is doubly the case here: on the one hand, it’s about the fabulous Tatra T77, one of the greatest vehicles of the pre-war years. And on the other hand, it’s about Andy Simo, who completely renovated the very example we’re showing here, regardless of the cost.

Mr. Simo saw the light of day shortly before the Second World War in Bratislava. After the war, he was once allowed to ride in a Tatra T77 – and that shaped his life. His family emigrated to the USA in 1948, he studied aeronautical engineering, worked for Boeing, Lockheed and on the Saturn V moon rocket. Simo was also an avid archer – and his company New Archery Products is one of the market leaders worldwide. Andy Simo also collected classic cars; his dream was always to own a Tatra T77. But they were very rare (there are probably five roadworthy examples left today). In 2007, he was finally able to buy a ruined T77 – and then had it restored. The story can be found at: The title says it all, but there are also wonderful pictures of the reconstruction of the vehicle.

And then there is the car itself, the Tatra T77. What Hans Ledwinka and Erich Übelacker designed from 1931 and presented in 1934 was probably one of the most important and extraordinary vehicles before the Second World War. After the Rumpler-Tropfenwagen (1921), the Tatra was the second vehicle of which a model was tested in a wind tunnel – and its drag coefficient of 0.38 was sensational for the time. The shape was created according to Paul Jaray’s specifications. But also the construction of the car was special, there was the typical Tatra Y-centre tube, but the car floor was almost smooth and the interior consequently huge (roughly comparable to today’s electric cars). The vertical rear fin, by which the T77s can be recognised, didn’t really add much, apart from a little more crosswind stability at higher speeds.

The Tatra was powered by a completely newly developed, air-cooled 3-litre V8 with overhead camshafts, which was installed in the rear and in a first version came to 60 hp at 3500 rpm. The engine case (like the gearbox case) was made of magnesium alloy, and power was transmitted to the rear wheels via a partially synchronised 4-speed gearbox. There was independent suspension all round, at the front on double triangular wishbones, at the rear on a swing axle with transverse leaf springs; deceleration was via hydraulically actuated drum brakes. This was also necessary, the 5.13-metre-long and 1.7-tonne Tatra was capable of speeds of up to 145 km/h. According to information, between 101 and 106 examples of the T77 were built, followed by the T77A and the T87.

This exceptional Tatra will be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s on Amelia Island in early March (Andy Simo passed away back in 2017, but his family had the restoration completed). We have more beautiful classics in our archive.

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