In 1932, Tatra designed a prototype automobile, with a rear engine, in the same league as the Volkswagen. In 1934, another car went into production: the Tatra 77. It was a big car with a V8 rear engine. A few hundred were made before the introduction of T87, still with a V8 but of a more modern design. The wood and steel body was replaced by a unibody, the car was a lighter and the engine, now made of aluminum, created a better balance of weight between the front and the rear axle.
In 1936, Tatra worked on one more project: a smaller car than the T87 but following exactly the same technology. It was the T 97. Manufacturing began in 1938 but when Czechoslovakia was invaded by Germany on March 15th, 1939, Hitler ceased production. The T97 was too close to the Volkswagen, which was supposed to be available in Germany the very same year.
Only 510 cars were made and today it is a very rare automobile.
(Photos by J. Michael Helmsley, Vintage Roadcar Magazine)