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Tatra vehicles


Tatra T52   (1931)

Tatra succeeded Nesselsdorfer in 1923 and designer Hans Ledwinka revolutionized existing design principles by creating a frameless car with a large diameter backbone tube, in place of a conventional chassis. The air-cooled engine was a 1056cc flat-twin, mounted transversely above the front axle. This Tatra 11 was succeeded by the improved model 12, which was built until 1930.

They were very sturdy cars, and were also successful in races. A water-cooled 2-litre six appeared in 1926. The 1.72-litre Type 30 flat-four superseded the two-cylinder versions in 1930. It, too, was air- cooled and had the engine transversely mounted. The water-cooled 2.3-litre Type 31 followed the earlier 2-litre six-cylinder in 1927, while the 1160cc Type 57 of the early 1930s was a new small air-cooled four-cylinder: the 1690cc Type 75 was similar in layout. In the early l930s two water-cooled ohv luxury models appeared, one with a 3850cc six-cylinder engine, the other a 5990cc V-12.

Few of these expensive models were built. In 1934, designer Hans Ledwinka, never short of unorthodox ideas, created another interesting car, the Tatra 77. It had an air-cooled V-8 engine of 2970cc mounted in the rear. The body was aerodynamic, with a central box-type frame. Only air-cooled cars were being made by Tatra when the war broke out. These were all four-cylinder models, the 52 ( 1910cc), the 57 ( 1260cc) and the 97 ( 1760cc), the latter being rear-engined, the others having flat-four engines in front. The rear-engined 2960cc model 87 was the successor to the Tatra 77. All now had ohv engines, except the model 52.


Tatra T603   (1955)

After the war, Tatra first produced improved versions of the rear-engined cars with 2472cc V-8 engines, but concentrated more and more on big lorries. From 1949-51 they built successful sports cars and racing monoposti with rear air-cooled engines which, driven by Vermirovsky, Soyka and Pavlicek, proved successful. From 1955 different versions of the rear-engined Tatra 603 appeared, followed by the improved 613; most of these cars were supplied only to Governments in Eastern Europe. Production is now on a small scale. The present 613 has a dohc V-8 engine of 3495cc, mounted above the rear axle and giving 165 bhp at 5200 rpm. It can attain 120mph.

(Vintage european Automobiles)

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