Lot 159

Monterey 2013

1948 Tatra T87 Limousine


$280,500 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
  • One of the most innovative, fascinating cars of its era
  • Equipped with the 2.5-liter T603 engine
  • Authentically restored and presented
  • A model rapidly achieving the recognition it deserves

94 bhp, 2,545 cc overhead-valve air-cooled V-8 engine, four-wheel manual transaxle, independent front suspension, swing axle rear suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 124 in.

Addendum: Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.

Chances are, if an American designer had submitted to an American manufacturer the design of this car in the mid-1930s, he would have been promptly sent home and asked to rest. Fortunately for Hans Ledwinka, he was employed by Czechoslovakia’s most prominent manufacturer, Tatra, which let the genius make his own path and break the mold.

Introduced in 1936, the T87 was the end result of a design that Ledwinka had begun developing in the early 1920s. Its incredibly streamlined body was built using full monocoque construction, providing a passenger cabin that was sturdy, quiet, and safe while also holding six passengers comfortably on a relatively short chassis. An air-cooled, magnesium alloy V-8 engine with hemispherical combustion chambers and a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank was mounted at the rear of the car. With swing-axle suspension carrying it, the T87 became renowned for its high-speed cruising capabilities and top speed of 100 mph.

Production of this innovative streamliner continued through 1950, halting briefly in 1943 and 1944 due to World War II. The design is credited with having influenced the Volkswagen Beetle, and after years of remaining “under the radar,” it is beginning to achieve the fame and ovation it deserves as a pioneer of advanced engineering and design.

The car offered here is a late production model T87 that is believed to be one of a handful built with the 2.5-liter T603 V-8 engine. Found in Slovakia in 2000, the car was later imported to Australia by the present owner, who commissioned a concours-quality restoration by Sleeping Beauties, of Brisbane, Queensland, which has displayed automobiles on the lawn at Pebble Beach. Finished to high standards of accuracy and finish, this Tatra has traveled very few miles since the restoration was completed, and it still presents fabulously today.

It is ready for display at the motoring event of one’s choice, or simply for testing out Hans Ledwinka’s genius on modern roads.