Sep
13
1934 Tatra 77

1934 Tatra 77

It’s a shame that Tatra isn’t better known to American auto enthusiasts, because the Czechoslovakian automaker produced some of the most interesting cars and trucks of the industry’s first century.

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Known today for burly, off-road-capable commercial trucks, Tatra was in the passenger-car business until 1999. Though some of the company’s later car designs could be generously described as clunky, its prewar streamliners were the stuff of science fiction—in a wonderful way.

The streamliners, so dubbed for their intentionally aerodynamic profiles, were produced between 1934 and 1939. A post-war series of cars, the 600 and 603, were designed in a similar vein, but are generally not considered to be streamliners.

Streamline Madness! A Gallery of Automotive Aerodynamics in Print Ads

Tatra 77 Ad

Tatra 77 Ad

The advertisement here—and it is an ad, though this same artwork was also used for a brochure—highlights the aerodynamic shape of the first Tatra streamliner model, the 77. Though the wordless nature of the ad may seem esoteric, it made a lot of sense. Czechoslovakia itself was not a major auto market, and Tatra sold vehicles in many European countries, all with their own languages. Thus, wordless ads worked well for a company looking to deliver a consistent message in multiple markets.

But forget that. What strikes me about the artwork is how air, or atmosphere, is so simply depicted as a menace, and the Tatra 77 shown to be unaffected by it. This ad is brilliant in its simplicity.

For a look at another pioneering aerodynamic car, check out the Rumpler Tropfenwagen, a German movie star dating back to 1921.

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Tatra 77 Ad Gallery

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Tatra 77

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Tatra 77

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