You'll have to be a person of interest or willing to lay out quite a few bucks if you wish to attend the Bonhams Quail Lodge sale in Carmel on August 16-17. But it's probably worth the price because the auction attracts some very rare and unusual automobiles. For example, the 1941 Tatra T87 seen above.
How rare? Over the course of 12 years Czechoslovakian manufacturer Tatra built roughly 3,000 examples of the highly advanced T87, only a fraction of which exist today. How unique? The body was the result of aerodynamic research by designer Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka, based on the philosophies and input of early aerodynamicists Edmund Rumpler and Paul Jaray. Adolph Hitler appreciated Ledwinka’s design so much that he had Ferdinand Porsche emulate it when designing the Beetle, a claim supported by Tatra’s successful 1961 lawsuit against Volkswagen.
The magnesium-alloy air-cooled V-8 engine was in the rear, giving the T87 excellent performance though sometimes dubious handling when pushed hard on curves. Nazi senior officers appropriated T87s for their luxury status and high-speed, but legend has it that more than a few of those senior officers met their fates when they attempted high-speed turns. Though the engine produced just 85 hp the aerodynamic advantages provided a top speed over 100 mph. The car also featured a backbone chassis and fully independent suspension.
This Tatra was owned by the late Martin Swig, founder of the California Mille and noted collector. According to Bonhams, Swig bought the T87 about 12 years ago after driving it in a rally in the Czech Republic. It was restored in Czechoslovakia but Swig later had the V-8 engine overhauled by Pit Stop Automotive in San Francisco. Bonhams goes on to say, "with a lovely patina, this T87 presents as a functional driver’s car with generally straight bodywork. The paint exhibits a few minor flaws that are in keeping with the overall condition, the chrome is very good and the glass is excellent. The wheels have been refurbished and the car sits on period whitewall tires. Inside, the upholstery has been re-trimmed in period brown corduroy and the gauges restored."
Sounds like an excellent opportunity for a keen enthusiast to aquire an historically relevant and beautiful automobile. Probably fun to drive, too. For more information go to Bonhams.com
[Photo courtesy Bonhams]