Tatra T600 Tatraplan

     The Only Fully-Enveloping Mass-Produced Teardrop Car

and images of other Tatra automobiles 

  

Images : all rights reserved © www.tatraplan.co.uk


email: contact at tatraplan.co.uk

 

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From 1933 Tatra T77 brochures

Celebrating Tatra art

Celebrating Czech transport art

  Rotter Studio 1930                         Petr Flenyko 1935                        A. V. Hrska 1927

 

   

 

Recommended reading

Tatra - The Legacy of Hans Ledwinka    Voiture Minimum          Automobiles by Architects                         Tatra 600 Tatraplan

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NEWS

 

'Europe's unknown innovator: interview with Tatra expert'

The Classic Car Trust 04/08/2014

http://classiccartrust.com/2014/08/europes-unknown-innovator-interview-tatra-expert/

 

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One of eight Tatras featured in class K at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

on 17 August 2014

1936 T77 from the Czech Republic 

 

 

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Tatraplan with 1945 De Havilland 89a Dragon Rapide and 1946 Avro Nineteen Anson aircraft

 

 

Tatraplan with 1932 Comper Swift

 

 

Prizes and awards:

2010: Best in Show – Haynes 100; Best Post War Car – Luton Festival of Transport; Classic Car of the Year, 1940s category – NEC Birmingham

2011: Class C winner – Salon Privé, Syon Park 

2014: Best Original Car – Shuttleworth House, Old Warden; Best in Show – Haynes 100

 

 

Article in VeloceToday.com

 

 

1952 Socema Grégoire prototype and 1951 Tatraplan at Musée des 24 Heures du Mans

 

 

 

CLASSIC CARS magazine May 2010 issue with a feature article on the Tatraplan

 

 

 

 

CLASSIC CARS Auto Zeitung magazine December 2012 issue with a feature article on the Tatraplan

 

 

 

Jay Leno recommending Ivan Margolius's and J. G. Henry's book Tatra - The Legacy of Hans Ledwinka

SAF Publishing, Harrow 1990 on his 2008 Tatra T87 video.

 

 

'A classic example of a car I saw in a book and ended up buying would be my Tatra T87. I bought one almost sight-unseen on account of reading about Hans Ledwinka.' Jay Leno

Octane 130, April 2014, p. 39

 

 

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Paul Jaray (1889-1974): 'Ideal streamlined form for a body close to the ground', c. 1920

ETH Library, History of Science Collection, Zurich, Switzerland

Tatra T600 Tatraplan matches Jaray's ideal form the closest of any other serially produced automobile

 

 

 

Manufacturer: Tatra, národní podnik, Kopřivnice, Moravia, Czechoslovakia now the Czech Republic

Design: Josef Chalupa, Vladimír Popelář, František Kardaus, Hans Ledwinka  

 

First Tatra T107 'Ambrož' prototype, December 1946  

  

 

Further full-size mock-up studies of Tatra T107 prototype, early 1947

 

Second Tatra T107 'Josef' prototype, March 1947

 

'Josef' prototype with the final T2–107 mock-up and prototype, and T97, 1947. The front of the 1947 T2–107 body to the post between the front and rear doors was designed by František Kardaus of Studio Burjanek a Remo (B a R), the first industrial designer involved with Tatra car bodies proposals.

Final design: Tatra T2107 Tatraplan introduced for the first time at Autosalon Prague 18/10/1947 

Geneva Motor Show 1949

Serial manufacture: 1948-1951 in Tatra, Kopřivnice,  1951-1952 in Škoda, Mladá Boleslav

Number made: 6,342 (4,242 in Kopřivnice, 2,100 in Mladá Boleslav)

 

Exported numbers of units from Kopřivnice (Mladá Boleslav figures in preparation):

Austria: 435, China: 200, West Germany: 195, Sweden: 184, Finland: 248, Canada: 168, Belgium: 167, Switzerland: 153, Hungary: 146, USSR: 126, Poland: 97, Yugoslavia: 76, The Netherlands: 60, East Germany: 46, Egypt: 45, Morocco: 29, Albania: 20, Romania: 17, Portugal: 1, Australia (RHD): tbc, Indonesia (RHD): tbc, Ceylon (RHD): tbc, Pakistan (RHD): tbc, Malaya (RHD): tbc, Kenya (RHD): tbc, Cyprus (RHD): tbc, Ethiopia (RHD): tbc, South Africa (RHD): tbc, Sudan: tbc, Argentina: tbc

Special exports for use by Czechoslovak and East block embassies: tbc

 

T2107 Tatraplan 1947 (T2-107 type designation changed to T600 at the end of 1947)

 

             

First series manufacture started on 24 June 1948 with daily production of about 3 to 6 units

Initially the selling price was established at 130,000 Czechoslovak crowns (approx Ł930 / US $2,600 in 1948),

soon increasing to 140,000 Czechoslovak crowns (approx Ł1,000 / US $2,800)

 

First series body numbers: 70.027 – 70.876

  Subsequent series: 70.877 76.867 (Kopřivnice, 1948: 90, 1949: 1,506, 1950: 2,025, 1951: 614 units) [70.877 – 70.926, 71.029 – 71.032, 71.035, 71.037 – 71.044, 71.047 – 71.055, 71.060 – 71.070, 71.072 – 71.082, 71.086 – 72.281, 74.730 – 75.126, – 76.867], officially the last car was produced there on 25 May, 1951 although some units may have been made there up to October 1951 such as 76.411 and 76.408 (some numbers very used out of chronological sequence)

 

25th to 29th series (Škoda numbered series): 179.001 – 181.100 (Mladá Boleslav, 1951: 236, 1952: 1,864 units) from August 1951 to May 1952

 

Another source gives the following information from Kopřivnice production:

1. series: 70.027 70.126 July 1948 January 1949, 2. series: 70.127 70.626 January 1949 July 1949,

 3. series: 70.627 71.126 June 1949 October 1949, 4. series: 71.127 72.126 November 1949 July 1950, 

5. series: 74.733 75.732 May 1950 March 1951, 6. series: 75.733 76.732 February 1951 October 1951,

 7. series: 76.733 76.867 April 1951 September 1951

 

First series engine numbers: 600.1.85.48 to 600.853.85.49 had engines with axial fan on vertical shaft and one carburetor, from body number 70.877 engines numbers  600.854.85.49  to  600.5103.85. 51 had a fan on horizontal shaft and two carburettors. Škoda Mladá Boleslav manufacture series had the same engine numbers as the body numbers and the manufacturing label due to patent and trademark laws still stated that the car was made in Tatra Kopřivnice.

 

Engine number explained: first number: Tatra type, second number: engine number, third number: cylinder bore, forth number: year of manufacture  

 

First series engine with vertical axis fan                   Later engine with horizontal axis fan from number 70.877

 

 

 

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Four flat four and six engines for comparison with the fans facing forward and rearward:

 1949 Volkswagen 1200 1,100cc, 1958 Porsche 356A 1,600cc, 1963 Porsche 911 1,991cc engines (not as neat, based on Tatra engine designs)

   

1938 Tatra T97 1,750cc engine

Tatra V8 engines for comparison

1937 T77a 3,380cc                 1946 T87 2,968cc                 1966 T603 H 2,472cc

   

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Body: streamlined self-supporting steel monocoque, fully smooth underside with welded-in backbone member

 

Before and during the Second World War Tatra Works measured only 1:5 and 1:10 models at the Aircraft Research and Testing Institute Praha-Letňany, at German Research Institute for Aviation Adlershof, at University of Stuttgart and 1:1 at VW Klima wind tunnel (1979):

Body drag coefficient Cd (Cx): Tatra T600 1:1 = 0.32 (tunnel) 0.33 (road) 1:5 = 0.24 (tunnel) 

For comparison: 

Tatra T57 1:5 model = 0.735 [1936]; 

Tatra T77 1:5 model = 0.245 [1936], 1:1 = 0.38 [estimated];

 Tatra T77a: 1:1 = 0.36 [estimated]; (0.212 quoted in other sources for T77a in fact relates to T87, see below!)

 Tatra T87: 1:10 model = 0.251, 1:5 model = 0.244, 1:1 = 0.36; (Erich Ledwinka quoted 0.212 for T87 in his lecture about Hans Ledwinka, see ‘Leben und Werk des Automobilpioniers Dr. tech. h.c. Hans Ledwinka’, as spoken by Erich Ledwinka at Akademischen Feier der Technischen Universität Wien on May 19th, 1978, published in Blätter für Technikgeschichte 39/40 Heft, Springer Verlag, Wien 1980, p 151.)

Tatra T97: 1:10 model = 0.259

 

Percentages of total drag created by: the frontal part of car 32%, the rest of the exterior 33%, the car underside 35% (!!!)

Hence the importance of smooth underside in car body designs.

 

Tatraplan aerodynamic road test            Testing small car models in Tatra smoke tunnel

 

Body types: saloon (Tatra T600, rear engine), ambulance and pick-up (Tatra T201, front engine)

Body colour range available between 1948-1951:

light blue, dark blue, black, light green, green, dark green, red, dark red, beige, grey, silver metallic grey, ivory, light brown, metallic blue, metallic light blue, metallic green, metallic red, metallic silver, yellow (special racing colour)

combinations of body with roof and bonnets: ivory and light brown, ivory and dark red, metallic silver and navy blue, metallic silver and dark red, light blue and dark metallic blue

Interior cloth colours: light red, light grey-brown, light green, red, green, blue, grey-brown

Interior leather colours for export only: beige, brown, red, green

In some units seats had a combination of leather and cloth

 

 

Tatraplan rear lid shape history:

70.027 70.876: pointed rear lid, part 600.21.0000 (1948-9)

70.877 75.732: pointed rear lid, part 600.21.0100 (1950-51)

75.733 76.867: rounded rear lid, part 600.21.0100/2 (1951)

(all above at Tatra Kopřivnice, rounded lid already designed and installed at Tatra)

179.001 181.100: rounded rear lid, part 13-001-98831 (1951-2 Škoda Mladá Boleslav)

 

 

Engine: flat four cylinder (boxer) OHV, petrol, four stroke, at rear

Bore: 85 mm

Stroke: 86 mm

Capacity: 1,952 cc

Power output: 52 bhp

Compression ratio: 6:1

Maximum revs: 4,000 1/min  

Acceleration: 0-80km/h (50mph) 22 sec

Valve clearance: 0,1 mm 0,15 mm

Carburettor: downdraught Zenith IMF / Solex 32 UBIP 2 no.

Firing order: 1, 4, 3, 2

Sparking plugs: PAL 14/175, Champion I 10 con, Bosch 175 T1

(modern: NGK BPR6HS)

Cooling: forced air draught by axial cooling fan

 

 

The petrol engine has aluminium cylinder heads and hemispherical combustion chambers. Valves are not inclined as much as in the Tatra T87 and are actuated by crossed rockers and operated by aluminium push-rods from a single camshaft placed in the aluminium crankcase below the crankshaft. The crankcase is split in the plane of the crankshaft. Both halves in which the main bearings are mounted are bolted together. The camshaft is driven from the front end of the crankshaft through gear pinions and the ignition distributor through worm gears. The distributor shaft incorporates a fuel pump drive cam.

    The lubricating oil pump is driven by the front end of the camshaft, the supply of oil being stored in the finned crankcase. Oil is forced from the pump through the oil cooler mounted in the front part of the car and, through a multi-edge cleaner to the lubricated parts. By-pass pressure valves are provided at the cooler and cleaner.

 

    The short-stroke engine develops 26 bhp per litre which is the same specific output as that of the Tatra T87 (8 cyl, 2,958 cc, 75 bhp). Originally the engine had an axial fan with a vertical shaft driven by a bevel gear. On the later design a horizontal axis fan was mounted directly to the dynamo shaft driven by a V belt. The long manifold piping of the original design was eliminated by using two carburetors and performance increased to 52 bhp.

 

 

Clutch: dry one-plate

Gear shift: steering column mounted

Gear box: mechanical 4-speed  

 

 

Gears: four with synchronization on 2, 3 and 4 plus reverse

Front springing: independent, by two transverse leaf-springs

Rear springing: independent, by torsion bars  

Shock absorbers: front and rear telescopic hydraulic dampers

Steering: rack and pinion

 Brakes: drums, hydraulic on all four wheels  

Engine oil: 9.5 litres, mineral oil 15W-50 SAE or similar

Electrics: Magneton coil, PAL 1.8 starter, 12V 75 Ah battery, Magneton VBG 08 distributor, Magneton 150W dynamo

Bulbs: main lights 12V 35/35W BA 20d

 

Tesla Omikron 513 BV 12V car radio was fitted to order, cost when new 9,500Kc (approx 7.5% of the car price!)

 

Example of RHD dashboard (1952) with floor gearchange altered by the owner

Tyre size: 6,00" – 16"

Rim size: E 4,00" – 16"

Front and Rear Track: 1,300 mm

Wheelbase: 2,700 mm

Overall length: 4,540 mm

Overall width: 1,670 mm

Overall height: 1,520mm

Fuel consumption: 11 litres / 100 km (26 miles per gallon)

Weight: 1,200 kg

Top speed: 130 km/h (80 mph)

Tank capacity: 56 litres

Road clearance: 225 mm

Number of seats: 5-6

  

The front boot has space for two spare tyres - the extra weight improves front to rear weight ratio

Front to rear weight ratio: 44% to 56% (empty), 42.8% to 57.2% (with full load of 405kg)

 

   

Competitions:  

1948 Jeseníky, Czechoslovakia: gold medal, driver: Alois Kopečný

1949 Jeseníky, Czechoslovakia: first, third and fourth places, winning drivers: Josef Chovanec / Jan Kubíček

1949 Velká Jihočeská soutěž, Czechoslovakia: first place in both sections, winning drivers: Adolf Veřmiřovský and Bruno Sojka

1949 Internationale Österreichische Alpenfahrt: 1,056 km, first four places gained in yellow Tatraplans; out of 22 cars in 2,000 cc Touring car class, drivers team: Karel Vrdlovec / Vladimír Formánek (Alpine Cup winner), Jaroslav Pavelka / Josef Chovanec, Adolf Veřmiřovský / Ing Schedivý, Alois Kopečný / Jan Kubíček, team manager Josef Veřmiřovský

1950 Rallye Interlaken: third and fourth places, Kopečný / Kubíček, Pavelka / Zahradníček

1951 Internationale Österreichische Alpenfahrt: 1,375 km, first in Touring car class: Alois Kopečný / Jan Kubíček,  (Alpine Cup winner)

1951 Langa-Langa Gilgil, Nairobi: winner of its class, equal time to the fastest

10/06/1951 80 km race, Chapultepec near Mexico City: first place, 42m 41s 2/5, 112.341 km/h driver: Jean Trévoux 

1953 Coronation Safari: Kenya, Uganda & Tanganyika: first in class C, drivers: Vic R. Preston Sr and D. P. Marwaha

 

 

see: http://www.eastafricansafarirally.com/2009/latest-news1.htm

Tatraplan in racing yellow participated in La Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico in 1989 driven by Jose Luis Villegas

 

Factory prepared racing Tatraplans usually lacked the rear door handles and gear to lighten the car, had increased compression ratio 6.8:1 with two dual Solex 30 AAIP carburettors, new 260 degrees camshaft, valves and rocker arms resulting in increased power to 67bhp, otherwise the cars retained normal serially produced specification

 

Tatraplan in Prague

   

 

   

     

   

    

 

     

 

   

   

   

   

There were very few Czechoslovak adverts as Tatraplan was only available for purchase by government departments, ministries or state security and only rarely appeared in foreign press supporting the limited export effort

   

 

   

     

 

Tatraplan derivatives:

1949 Tatra T201 ambulance (Sodomka body), later series front engine with raised bonnet and fenders, 1 no.

 and 

1949 T201 'Dakota' pick-up with first series front engine, 1 no., both had central tubular chassis

     

Special Tatraplan T201 front engine prototype van body on the 1949 T600 assembly line and as used as a police vehicle in 'Šťastnou cestu' film (1962), designed by Josef Klejch at Karosa, Vysoké Mýto

1949 Tatra T601 Tatraplan Monte Carlo Coupe, 1 no.                  1949 Tatra T602 Tatraplan Sport, 2 no.  

 

Tatra T602 Tatraplan Sport engine: flat four, 1,952cc, 80bhp, compression ratio 8:1, four Solex carburettors

1949-53 Tatra T600D Tatraplan Diesel, 2 – 3 units?     1949 Tatraplan Cabriolet Sodomka body, 1 no.

 

Tatra T600 1,952 cc 42 bhp OHV flat 4 diesel engine

Some Tatraplans were later fitted with T603 V8 2,545 or 2,472 cc engines (designed between 1948-49 by Jiří Klos & Julius Mackerle)

However, these engines made the Tatraplan too rear-heavy

 

In 1953 factory speed trials over 400-metre distance were carried out:

T87 / standard V8  2,968cc engine - 89 km/h 24.6 sec

T87 / T603 engine - 96 km/h 23.2 sec

Tatraplan / T603 engine - 109 km/h 21.4 sec

   

Tatraplan with three headlights! 

Tatra T111 truck, Tatra T400 trolleybus, Tatra M290 Slovenska strela

Other modern air-cooled rear engine cars:

Chevrolet Corvair; Fiat 500; Fiat Giardiniera; BMW 600, 700; NSU Prinz IV, 1000, NSU Sport Prinz; Steyr Puch 500; Steyr Puch Haflinger; Zaporozec; VW 1200, 1500, 1600; Porsche 356, 911, 914; Tatra T77, T77a, T87, T97, T601, T603, T613, T700

 

Other cars with rear fins:

Adler Autenrieth 1938, Audi UW 1934, Bel Geddes no. 8 1931, Borgward prototype (Übelacker) 1955, Briggs-Tjaarda 1933, Bugatti 57S Atlantic 1938, CD Panhard LM64 1964, Chenard & Walcker Mistral 1933, Citroen Andreau prototype 1944, Delage D8 Letourneur & Marchand Aerosport 1937, Delage V12 Vutotal 1937, Delahaye Pourtout 1947, DKW prototype 1935, Dodge Charger 500 Daytona 1969, Dubonnet Andreau 1935, GM / Tjaarda Sterkenburg 1931, GM concept cars 1949, Jaguar D-Type 1954, Jawa 700 Special 1934, Jetcar 1 Electro 2000, K1 Kamm 1938, Lancia Astura 233C Aerodinamica 1935, Leichtbau Maier 1935, Martin-Binachon 1935, Maybach SW 35 1938, Mercedes Benz 170 Erdmann & Rossi 1933, Mercedes Benz 320 Streamline 1939, Opel 21 Jaray 1936, Peugeot 402 Andreau 1936, Pierre Fenaille 1938, Plymouth XNR 1960, Plymouth Superbird 1970, Škoda 935 1935, Škoda Rapid Six 1935, Škoda Coupe and Roadster Popular Monte Carlo 1936, Tatra T77, T77a, T87, T97, T107, T601, T603 mock-up 1933-1955, Versuchsbau VI 1938, Wikow Kapka 1931


Very rare poster and stills from the 1935 film 'Transatlantic Tunnel New York to London' UK starring Richard Dix, Leslie Banks and Tatra T77, directed by Maurice Elvey:

   

A classic cinematographic mistake:

Tatra T2-603s (from 1962) are used instead of Tatraplans in Costa Gavras' film 'The Confession' - 'L'Aveu' (1970)

 where Yves Montand stars as Artur London. London is being arrested in 1951 as a victim of the infamous Slánský Trial, 

then Tatraplans were used by the State Security (StB)

   

   

   

   

   

Although later in the film Tatraplan is used - the T2-603 transforming suddenly into the T600 as if to correct the previous shots, perhaps the T600 was not available when the shooting started.

London introduces the change by saying that 'in 1951 Tatraplans were used'.

    

Tatraplan's 'ancestral' line as displayed at the Swiss Museum of Transport, Lucerne: T97, T87, T77

1938 Tatra T77a at Pebble Beach California and British registered 1946 Tatra T87 

 

Tatra T87 on La Place de l'Opera, Paris, early 1950s, French postcard

Tatra T87 and Volkswagen taken in the 1960s

Two Tatra T87s travelling on the North American Continent (courtesy of Gary Cullen)

 

 

Best view of Tatra cars is from above

 

 

Tatra T600 Tatraplan

A Mass-Produced Teardrop Car

Ivan Margolius  

first published in Architectural Design, Volume 71, number 5, September 2001

(here the text is updated)

 

'A new horizon appears. A horizon that will inspire the next phase in the evolution of the age.' Norman Bel Geddes, Horizons, 1932

Take yourself back fifty years. Think of a car. Contemplate streamlining. Imagine a perfect teardrop form, the form of least resistance, on wheels. The only mass-produced automobile that fits that description would be a Tatra T600 Tatraplan.

    Tatra is the oldest automotive manufacturer in the world. It started in 1850 in the small Moravian town of Nesselsdorf (Kopřivnice) making a variety of horse-drawn and later railway coaches. Then the factory was called Schustala & Co and from 1897, Nesselsdorf automobiles were built there. Twenty-two years later their products were re-branded with a Tatra badge and presently, innovative trucks, that have been victorious in six Paris-Dakar Rallies, are still produced there.

    Why is the Tatraplan so memorable and such a milestone in automotive design evolution? It came as the end result of a line of revolutionary developments in streamlining that Tatra so bravely attempted and had an innovative monocoque body construction. Encouraged by the progress in Zeppelin airship design, early Junkers and Dornier aeroplanes, studies of natural forms by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson in his book On Growth and Form and new expression in Constantin Brancusi's art and architecture of Erich Mendelsohn, the science of aerodynamics became established. In developing automobile design it was realized that in order to consume less fuel and achieve greater speed and power it was necessary to consider improvement of air penetration.

    Paul Jaray, of Hungarian descent, the main advocate of aerodynamics, who lived and worked in Switzerland obtained several patents for streamlined car bodies in the 1920's. In 1931 the Czech company Wikow produced a car called Kapka (Drop) that attempted a streamlined form.    

    For racing and experimental cars progress was accelerated and streamlining was applied in a number of cases. However, the general public taste was adverse to such a radical departure from the established cubic forms of vehicles and it was only in the mid 1930's that car manufacturers attempted to market streamlined cars. The Czech Tatra was such a pioneer.

    In 1897, Hans Ledwinka (1878-1967), an Austrian by birth, began to work in the Nesselsdorf factory and his bold approach soon led him to the directorship of the automobile division. He introduced swing axles attached to central tubular chassis that was powered by a front air-cooled engine. This arrangement provided a very flexible framework that became proven and successful on the rough Central European roads.  

    In 1933 Ledwinka with Erich Übelacker (1899-1977) designed the model T77, a large fully streamlined rear air-cooled engine car that created a sensation when it was exhibited at the Berlin Autosalon. Its rear single stabilizing fin became a Tatra trademark. In the next year mass-production followed and additional streamlined models, the T77a (1935), T87 (1936) and T97 (1937) came on the market.  

 

   The Tatraplan had a stormy and adventurous beginning. After the Second World War Tatra wanted to bring a new design on the market that would continue the tradition of streamlined models and at the same time achieve greater improvement of comfort. The goals were to lower the overall weight, distribute it evenly over the chassis, increase the interior space, design a body with smallest drag coefficient, improve operational economy and introduce an all-metal body. The new model was to be based on the pre-war Tatra 97, designed by Hans and Erich Ledwinka of which only 508 cars were built before the occupying Third Reich stopped its production because of its closeness to the KdF-Wagen (Volkswagen).

    With Hans Ledwinka in prison, goaled for alleged and unproved collaboration during the war, (Ledwinka was released in 1951 and fully rehabilitated in 1992) the factory was left without a strong designer. The factory directors Jaroslav Růžička and Josef Heske appointed engineer Milan Cvetnič to take on the role. Initially Cvetnič proposed to modernize the T97 model. This was not accepted. Then came Professor Vladimír Souček under whose leadership a new car began to emerge. Josef Chalupa, director of the body design department, proposed the concept of a self-supporting steel monocoque streamlined body (years ahead of the world development) with a flat punt-type frame with perforated welded box side members and a central rib that forked into a Y-form at the rear to accept a new air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine mounted on two radial silentblocs. The first prototype was completed in December 1946. However, the tests, which followed found bad stability, inadequate power, poor engine cooling and interior heating. The second prototype, made in spring 1947, did not solve any of these problems and Souček departed. Engineer Vladimír Korbel assisted by designer Vladimír Popelář, was asked to build five prototypes for the 1947 Prague Autumn Autosalon. To find the best way forward Popelář and Chalupa, through Ledwinka's former chauffeur Kopečný, arranged a meeting with Hans to obtain his advice. In May 1947, at midnight, the visitors came to see Ledwinka in his Nový Jičín prison cell bringing all the drawings of the new car with them. Ledwinka welcomed them with opened arms and after two and half hour consultation gave his views. He liked the form of the car but suggested enlarging the engine capacity, redesigning the engine fan-cooling arrangement and rear axle assembly, moving the headlights from the bonnet to the edge of the front wings, introducing roof cooling vents and keeping the traditional Tatra rear fin which was missing on the prototypes.

    The new cars were delivered to the Autosalon within hours to spare and to a widely acclaimed success. It is interesting to note that the front of the 1947 T2–107 body to the post between the front and rear doors was designed by František Kardaus of Studio BaR, the first industrial designer involved with Tatra car bodies proposals. When tested in a wind tunnel the Tatraplan, its name implying a connection to a contemporary two-year economic 'plan' as well as its streamlining inspired by aeroplanes (colloq. Czech: éro'plan', from the originally designated name Tatra Autoplan, František Kardaus is credited by suggesting the name Tatraplan) had an impressive 0.32 drag coefficient. The Tatraplans were triumphant in a number of rallies, especially in 1949 Österreichische Alpenfahrt where they gained the first four places. By the beginning of 1953 6,342 units were produced, with over a third of which were exported into 22 countries (Austria, China, East and West Germany, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, USSR, Poland, Finland, Yugoslavia, The Netherlands, Egypt, Morocco, Albania, Romania, Australia, Argentina, Sudan)  but not into the UK.  

 

    Tatra was the only company faithfully embracing streamlining principles and bringing them first into mass-production. Individual experiments carried out by others such as Jenatzy's La Jamais Contente (1899), Conte Ricotti's Alfa Romeo by Castagna (1913), Rumpler's Tropfen-Auto (1921), Jaray's Ley (1922), Audi (1923) and Dixi (1923) and Burney's Streamliner (1930)  paved the way for Tatra's achievement. The line of Tatra teardrop streamlined cars created a benchmark for the future development of the automobile design.

 

 

Link to an article about Tatraplan published in the USA during the Cold War:

TATRA: The Best Red Car by F. H. Baer (Auto Sport Review [USA], October 1953)

Tatraplan Imports into Canada

by Gary Cullen, British Columbia (copyright)

The first time I heard the story was in 1989 from 80-year old John Mini in Vancouver. I had just bought John's 1949 T600 which he had owned for almost 40 years. He bought it when it was about 6 months old from the original owner who didn't like the car. In 1989 John had been using the car for 40 years. He told me it was the first car he ever owned and the only car he ever owned (though he did also have a camper van that he drove to Arizona to spend the winters since he retired) He had arrived from Italy just after the war and had never owned a car there. He had kept the Tatra running all those years with spells of having it off the road while he was repairing it or rebuilding the motor (he did the motor 3 times). He had bought two more T600's for parts and kept them in his garage. Parts were not available so he became very good at sourcing other parts to fit the car. When I bought the car from him he thought it had close to 300,000 miles on it and once again the motor was in need of rebuilding.

    Škoda's on it out into the Georgia Straight and dumping them into the sea! John thought the story interesting but did not really believe the fellow. Then a few years later he met someone else that said he remembered loading cars like his onto a barge to be taken out and dumped in the straight. This second fellow told him that he was told by his boss at Vancouver Tug (now Seaspan) that the Canadian government was paying to have them dumped.

    Apparently the Canadian government had lent or partnered with a Vancouver car dealer, Billie Campbell of Campbell Motors, an unknown amount of money towards a $1,500,000 deal to import Tatra's and Škoda's into Canada and that Campbell had been to Czechoslovakia to close the deal. The Canadian government had gotten involved because of some kind of war reparations exchange with Czechoslovakia, the exact nature of this is unclear. I also heard there was wheat instead of cash from Canada involved with the exchange but have not had this confirmed in print. Anyway back to the dumping of the cars. At the time of the dumping anti-Communist sentiments were high on the political landscape and not being able to sell all of the Czech cars had become an embarrassment to the dealers but especially to the government who also had the most invested. So, someone in the government decided it was better to dump the cars at sea rather than to dispose of them in any other way that might be more of an embarrassment to the government. After the story from the second fellow John began to believe it but never pursued it any further. I was intrigued by the story and thought it was possible but it sounded more like "folklore" at the time.

    Then a few years later, in about 1992 or 93, I had my first T87 restored and it was parked at a local shopping center near my home. I returned to find an old fellow looking the car over and he told me he remembered a story about a barge load of these cars being dumped in the straight (of course he meant Tatraplans and not T87's)! I was rather surprised to hear this story again first-hand and asked him if he thought the story was true and he said it certainly was! He had not seen the cars loaded himself but he had worked at the Vancouver ship yards and said the story was well known amongst the workers. He said the story as he remembered it was the government wanted to get rid of some Communist cars they had imported and that Campbell Motors was involved (Campbell Motors was quite well known in Vancouver at the time, they are long gone now). He remembered it was the 1950's but could not remember the year. He thought there had been a small story in the local Vancouver Sun newspaper about it but he wasn't sure. I have tried a few times to search the papers archives on line but have found nothing so far. How many cars were dumped I don't know, none of the three people gave a number.

    It was the Campbell family of Campbell Motors, 1234 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, that was involved with importing and distributing the cars across Canada. I have a friend that worked for Campbell Motors at the time the Czech cars came in. It was his first job when he was a teenager to clean all the Tatra's and Škoda's as they arrived at the dealer. He also once delivered a car from Vancouver to Edmonton, Alberta, quite a drive in those days as there was no Canadian road through the Rocky Mountains, he had to take it into the USA and across the Rockies there before driving it to Northern Alberta. Unfortunately he doesn't remember anything about the import or dumping of the cars (he was just a kid at the time). I tried to track down the Campbell family but had no luck there either. The research continues…


                

1951 Paris based Tatraplan as originally exported to Portugal

       

        

Export models had polished aluminium fan cowling, crankshaft pulley and air filter casings

        

The only two French owned 'on the road' 1949 and 1951 T600s both with rounded rear lids

  

1949 Tatraplan with windscreen wipers arranged from above

      

1950 Tatraplan in USA

      

Well-preserved 1950 Tatraplan in Los Angeles, USA awaiting restoration

       

Tatraplan literature

                 

 

Link to Tatraplan Driver's Handbook in English

 

Tatraplan models

           

 

Rare wooden Tatraplan toy made in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s

1949 Tatra T600 Tatraplan before, during restoration and finally completed (2002-2009)

At present there are two units on the road in the UK

Remarkably laid out, beautiful 'piece of engineering art': 1949 T600 1,952cc engine

Tatraplan 'at home' inside no.1 airship shed, Cardington, Bedfordshire, UK (photos © I. Margolius and Lyndon McNeil)

  

Tatra enthusiast starts young (photo © Binky Nixon)

Spare parts source (Náhradní díly) :

Ecorra spol. s r.o. Kopřivnice-Lubina, Czech Republic

www.ecorra.com

   

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   Last updated 28 August 2014

 

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