The Tatra 97: A Futuristic Mid-Size Car That Met an Untimely End
The Tatra 97, or T97, was a mid-size car built by Tatra in Kopřivnice, Moravia from 1936 to 1939. Despite its futuristic design and unique features, only around 500 units were produced. Unfortunately, the car’s production came to an abrupt end due to the outbreak of the Second World War, specifically the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany.
The T97 was designed to complement Tatra’s two full-size cars, the Tatra 77 and Tatra 87, which were launched in 1934 and 1936, respectively. All three models had air-cooled rear engines and shared similar aerodynamic fastback four-door sedan bodies. However, the T97 had a flat-four engine instead of the large V8 engines used in the T77 and T87. The T97 was also characterized by two headlights and a one-piece windscreen, while the T77 and T87 had three headlights and a three-piece windscreen. With its 1,759 cc flat-four engine, the T97 could produce 40 horsepower (30 kW) and reach a top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph).
Tatra already had a mid-size car in the same class, the more conventional Tatra 75 that it had launched in 1933. Despite this, Tatra continued to produce the Type 75 alongside the futuristic Type 97. Interestingly, the Type 75 outlived the Type 97 and remained in production until 1942.
The Tatra 97 was a unique and forward-thinking vehicle that showcased the company’s dedication to innovation and design. It’s a shame that it didn’t get a chance to thrive, but its legacy lives on as a reminder of Tatra’s contribution to the automotive industry.