An American who was born in Slovakia had this Tatra T77 restored for one million US dollars. On March 4th it went under the hammer, the sales price has the character of a bargain.
Its presentation at the Prague Motor Show on March 4, 1934 was a sensation: the Tatra T77 looked more modern than any other car before it. Aerodynamics specialist Paul Jaray had formed the body of the luxury sedan in the wind tunnel. After the Rumpler drop car from 1921, the Tatra T77 was only the second car whose body the designers had optimized in a wind tunnel. Paul Jaray helped Manfred von Brauchitsch in 1932 to win the Berlin AVUS race with a Mercedes SSKL streamlined car - the streamlined body made the SSKL 20 km/h faster. The presentation of the Tatra T77 was also a sensation because the car came as a surprise: chief designer Hans Ledwinka had ordered the development to be kept strictly confidential. From 1934 to 1936 Tatra built 106 T77 at its Czech site. Only five have been restored and are roadworthy today. One of them is currently part of an auction.
Future car as a Nazi killer
More than one million dollars (currently the equivalent of around 914,800 euros) went into the restoration of this Tatra T77, and the complex preparation was completed in autumn 2022. Back then, Tatra vehicles looked as if they came from the future. Only top earners could afford them - and they sometimes flew out of the curve with the cars. Finally, the air-cooled 3.0-liter V8 sits in the rear, the front part of the car is comparatively light. Although the engine only delivers 60 hp, a T77 drives up to 150 km/h due to its good aerodynamic shape. On roads covered in morning dew or otherwise slippery, an inexperienced driver who was too fast could suddenly lose control of the swerving rear end. That's why the T77 has a huge fin at the rear - which should increase lateral stability. It is said that many Wehrmacht officers died in accidents with Tatras because they had overestimated their driving skills - in the Czech Republic, the cars were tongue-in-cheek as a secret weapon against the Nazis.
The T77 sold is the ninth model of this type built by Tatra. The first buyer was Count Jaromir Egon Rudolf Franz Czernin von Chudenitz and Morzin, who made a tour through the Italian Alps by car in 1935. The Count drove the T77 until 1936, after which the trace of the car was lost in the turmoil of the Second World War and the Eastern Bloc era that followed in Eastern Europe. The auctioneers suspect that the Tatra was in operation until the mid-1970s and then ended up in a barn in what is now Slovakia. Slovakia was then part of Czechoslovakia.
Via Germany to the USA
In 2005, a German Tatra enthusiast bought the T77 and exhibited it at the Essen Motor Show in 2006. The following year, American Andy Simo bought the car and shipped it to the US with the aim of restoring the T77 at no cost. Born in 1938 in a village near the Slovakian capital Bratislava, he drove in a Tatra T77 for the first time at the age of eight. The aerodynamic design and the technology of the car had immediately impressed him.
The restoration is documented on the Million Dollar Tatra website. None of the well-known restoration workshops in the USA had ever restored a Tatra - Simo and his employees sometimes had to start from scratch with their research for the vehicle. In 2016, he learned about International Auto Restoration of Oak Lawn, Illinois. The specialists had just rebuilt a T77 successor model with a T87. So Simo entrusted the Tatra experts with the restoration. Andy Simo died unexpectedly on May 18, 2017 at the age of 79. His wife Cherie, his daughter Melanie and his son Steven had long since understood Andy Simo's enthusiasm - and continued the restoration to these ultimate standards. Many sheet metal parts were still in good condition, only the underlying ash wood frame was partially rotted. A French specialist has rebuilt the frame while retaining as much of the original wood as possible. The sunroof, which was optional at the time, caused many problems with the models of that time - in the course of the restoration, the car got the standard steel roof.
Simple interior elegance in the original look
The front bumper is a reproduction and the restorers found the original patterns and colors for the interior with a lot of work - so the gray leather seats correspond to the original look. The ivory colored instruments, set in a burl veneered bezel, are also faithful to the original. The V8 engine has new connecting rods, bearings and valves, the newly installed original carburettor even comes from a stock in the Czech Republic. All other technical components such as the gearbox, the starter and the electrical systems have been overhauled by the restorers.
With the help of the global Tatra community, the specialists were able to restore every little detail. The missing carburetor damper, the also missing fold-out indicators and three wheels could be reproduced - when the car was delivered, only two wheels were original. Meanwhile, the car should have Concours quality.
Selling price: 366,600 euros
The managers of the auction house RM Sotheby's auctioned off the extremely rare and in excellent condition Tatra T77 on March 4, 2023 in the course of their Amalia Island auction. There was no reserve price. So 390 was enough.000 US dollars (equivalent to around 366,600 euros) for the purchase of the rare and extensively restored automobile. Were expected 500,000 to 700,000 dollars (470,000 to 658,000 euros).
The Tatra T77 was one of the most advanced cars in the first half of the 1930s. To this day, connoisseurs appreciate the futuristic-looking aerodynamic shape, the modern-looking luxury, characterized by simple elegance, and the unusual technology with an air-cooled V8 in the rear.
Tatra enthusiast Andy Simo had the sold T77 restored for over a million dollars for more than a decade. There are currently only five roadworthy T77s known worldwide - and the one sold could be the best in terms of condition. In view of the rarity, the effort involved in the restoration and the estimate, the price achieved can be considered cheap.