1930s / 1940s / 1950s / Czech / Tatra

ZeitHaus treasures: 1945 Tatra 87

Introduced in 1936, the Tatra 87 was the first series-produced car whose silhouette was fine-tuned in a wind tunnel. It consequently featured a drag coefficient of 0.36 — to put that figure into perspective, a Ferrari Testarossa achieved the same figure in 1986.

From a design standpoint, the 87 stood out with three headlights, a wrap-around windshield made up of three separate pieces of glass, and a massive fin on the back. Power came from a 3.0-liter air-cooled V8 engine mounted right behind the passenger compartment, a configuration that lived on for decades in other Tatra model after the 87 was phased out. In this application the 90-degree V8 made 75 horsepower at 3,500 rpm, enough to send the 3,020-pound (1,370-kilo) sedan on to a top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h).

The 87 wasn’t cheap — it carried a base price 8,450 Reichsmark in 1939. Tatra built just 3,023 examples from 1936 to 1939, and from 1945 to 1950.

Note: as a reader pointed out, the Tatra 77 that debuted in 1934 was tested in a wind tunnel before the 87 pictured above. Just 255 examples were manufactured until production ended in 1938.

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