Engine: 177 cu. in. (3L)
Magnesium Alloy, 90˚ SOHC V-8
Output: 85 HP
Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
Wheelbase: 124 in.
Overall Length: 188 in.
Weight: Unknown
Top Speed: 100 MPH approx.
No. Produced: 3,056 total production
Original Price: $5,717
Manufacturer: Tatra


Tatra began experimenting with car aerodynamics in the early 1930s. The first of Tatra’s “aerodynes” was the Tatra T-77.  This was the world’s first serially produced aerodynamic-styled automobile powered by an air-cooled rear-mounted engine. Its replacement, the T-87, began production in 1936 and continued through 1950. Although shorter than the T-77, the T-87 provided seating for six in Bauhaus styling. The body employed full monocoque construction.

With the outbreak of war, Tatra was forced to produce military vehicles temporarily halting T-87 production between 1943-1944.  Later, the T-87 was allowed in limited production. It is rumored this car was favored by Hitler for its high speed, remarkable traction in bad weather, and its reliability on the cold Eastern front. Allegedly so many German officers were killed behind the wheel than in combat and were forbidden from driving the T-87. Tatra’s were called “Czechoslovakia’s Secret Weapon” for this reason. Jay Leno calls it, “The greatest car than no one has ever heard of.”



  • Car features designer Hans Ledwinka’s trademark, independently-suspended backbone chassis.
  • Extensive use of magnesium alloy was used for the engine, gearbox, suspension and body.
  • Windshield is flanked by small windows at the a-pillars giving the driver exceptional visibility.
  • There is a smooth flow of body lines from the three headlights (Cyclops third headlight) on the front hood to the elegant dorsal fin.
  • The intake scoops allow air to flow into the engine.
  • Suspension is fully independent with hydraulic brakes.
  • The design of the T-87 influenced Ferdinand Porsche’s design of the VW Beetle. Tatra sued VW for infringing on 11 different patents and won a million Deutschemark settlement after the war, but VW made millions on the design it stole. Ultimately Ludwinka never collected any of the settlement and died essentially penniless.
  • It is believed that there are about 10 T-87s here in the U.S.
  • Noted owners are Jay Leno, Felix Wankle, Erwin Rommel, John Steinbeck, King Farouk of Egypt and Sir Norman Foster.
  • Allegedly 7 Nazi officers died the first week of driving the T-87.
  • Historians found that more Nazi officers died driving Tatras than in combat and eventually Hitler forbade officers from driving the cars.
  • Czechoslovak travelers Miroslav Zikmund and Jiří Hanzelka drove the T-87 around 44 African countries, covering 100K km, some of the roads were dried river beds. Returning from their 31/2 year trip they had the car inspected and although it was dirty, the engine showed little wear and tear, suspension was great and only first gear showed signs of wear. Frist car to drive from Egypt to Cape Town, S.Africa on its own wheels.
  • The T-87 predated the Tucker by about 10 years and was a more finished car.
  • Similar cars got 6-9 mpg, the T-87 got around 20 MPG.
  • Car has a self-lubricating system that is pedal activated. Advised to do this every 70 miles or so.



On Loan from Lane Motor Museum, Nashville, TN