Today we bring a slice of an alternative universe, one where Tatra automobiles did not cease production (that was 1999).
Today we bring a slice of an alternative universe, one where Tatra automobiles did not cease production (that was 1999). The car here is one of four Tatra MTX V8 sportscars built out of a planned 100. The car was shown as concept at the 1991 Prague motor show and 200 orders were taken by thrilled visitors. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the production facilities and also destroyed Tatra’s chances of showing the West that Czech engineering was alive and well and able to take on the best.
Wikipedia has this to say on the topic: “It was designed by the legendary Czech automobile designer Václav Král and was the fastest Czech car at that time. Under the hood lies a Tatra V8 3.9L with 225 kW (306 PS; 302 hp) @ 6500 rpm, it has scissor doors opening vertically and pop-up headlamps. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is given as 5.6 seconds and the maximum speed reaches 265 km/h.” I think it looks a little like a Jaguar XJ 220 (from 1992). (The engine may be subject to its own special study later on).
Much of the information on Václav Král is in Czech but according to a small English explanation “Václav Král was an extraordinary industrial designer whose automotive creations could compete head on head with anything from workshops of Bertone, Ghia or Pininfarina.” I suspect he worked on Tatra’s later cars and possibly some rear-engined vehicles from Skoda but I am not absolutely sure of that. He seems to have worked for a coachbuilder called Metalex who produced variants of existing cars plus other vehicles.
Finally, students of the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire will not be surprised to learn that Tatra cars began its existence in 1850 as Schustala & Company. It was later called Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau-Fabriksgesellschaft when it began producing wagons and carriages. In 1918, it changed its name to Kopřivnická vozovka a.s., and in 1919 started to use the Tatra badge. Why 1918? In 1918 the constitutional union of the Empire of Austria and the Apostolic Kingdom of Hungary ended. At that point it wasn’t really necessary for Hungarian to use German for the names of their companies.