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Tatra developing passenger cars

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T87 (ČTK): Jiří Havelka and Mirosalv Zikmund's famous Tatra T87 won in a public poll on what classic model the company should revive. (ČTK)Jiří Havelka and Mirosalv Zikmund’s famous Tatra T87 won in a public poll on what classic model the company should revive. (ČTK)

As soon as the markets become a little calmer, Tatra wants to launch a car based on the model that was used on Jiří Hanzelka and Miroslav Zikmund’s famous trip in the late 1940s. The new model would incorporate the wheel frame of a Subaru Outback.

The car maker has not given up its plan to recreate old Tatra models, with the body of the car sitting on a modern wheel frame, even as it faces a decline in demand for its lorries. The first car to be launched should be the Tatra T87, a choice decided in a public poll.

“From today’s standpoint, Tatra 87 was sort of like an SUV, and that’s why we decided to use the Subaru Outback wheel frame,” explains Tatra’s Karel Beneda.

It took a long time to decide, but the Subaru frame was the clear favourite from the beginning. Its flat motor with diametrical cylinders can fit even into a Tatra, which originally had the motor in the back and had rear-wheel drive. The new model will have four-wheel drive, which is the standard with Subaru cars.

“The wheel frame is available and it’s possible to start manufacturing it. Now we just need to finalise everything and keep an eye on the situation on the market,” says Beneda. He does not want to say any specific dates, but he says everything is on track and the first cars could appear next year.

For a while now, Beneda has regular meetings at the university in Zlín, which has been involved in the project for more than half a year. “At the moment, we are working on a project for a completely new model that incorporates some of Tatra’s typical design elements,” says Pavel Škarka, a professor. It is all still at the stage of early sketches, but soon they will build the first models. It is at this moment more of an exercise for what the future of Tatra could look like. Škarka himself, however, says the likeliest scenario would be the production of a limited series of cars that would use the wheel frame of some other car manufacturer.

But now the Tatra plant knows what wheel frame they want for the legendary T87. This means the university will have all the necessary information to start working on tasks that have bigger priority: how to “fit” the original body of the car onto the modern wheel frame in terms of design. The Brno University of Technology is helping with the technical aspect. The goal is to create a car that fulfills all the requirements when it comes to technical parameters and other conditions, but maintains a retro look.

Thanks to its Japanese wheel frame the new “classic car” should drive the way any new car drives. Subaru is offering its four-cylinder, 2.5-litre boxer-type motor and a similar six-cylinder, 3-litre motor.

The stronger motor in its standard version has 250 horsepower. The choice of the wheel frame is not surprise for František Prosecký from the classic car museum, Veteran Muzeum, in Bítov. “We would prefer if they used a Tatra motor, but it’s not available right now and it would really drive up the price. We were expecting them to go with the Subaru,” he says. According to Prosecký, the car will immediately become a collectors’ item, so the demand will be high. The owners of these cars will be welcome at classic car events and among Tatra fans.

“If you buy a new car for CZK 1 million, as soon as you leave the dealership, the price of the car falls to CZK 800,000. With the new Tatra the value will remain high, although it obviously depends on how many cars there will be in the series,” he explains. He says if the car won’t be too expensive, he would like to buy it for the museum.

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