Classic AutoRAI 99: pre-war cars:
Talbot-Darracq & Tatra
Wonderful swooping and
expressive lines on this French Talbot-Darracq. It bears the typical designer marks of the
then fashionable coachbuilder Figoni & Falaschi.
In 1935 Italian technician Anthony Lago took over the control of the French part of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq (STD) concern. The concern had been acquired by the Rootes group that only wanted to continue with the healthier British part (changing the name to Sunbeam-Talbot) and sold off the French division. The French built cars continued under the traditional Talbot-Darracq name for a few years after which the name was gradually changed to Talbot-Lago. The emblem on this car mentions all three names (Lago-Talbot-Darracq).
Lago turned the company
into a manufacturer of high-class and stylish sports cars. In 1937 he introduced the 150
series which all had a 4 litre 6 cylinder in-line engine with overhead valves. The version
with twin Solex carburetors (usually designated as 150-SS) produced 140 hp @ 4000 rpm. The
cars had an independent front suspension and Wilson pre-selector gearboxes (which Anthony
Lago was the French importer of).
Tatra 11 was the first complete car designed by famous engineer Hans Ledwinka. It was
built by the Ringhoffer-werke in what had become the Czechoslovakian (now Czech) republic
after the first World War (before that it was part of the Austrian Habsburg realm). The
car was also known as the T11, the Tatracheck or the Tin Dachshund ("Tin
Spaniel" in English).
Although it looks rather dreary it was a very innovative car. It features a backbone chassis constructed out of a central pipe that contained the driveshaft, engine and transmission are fitted in one block and it has a independent rear suspension constructed out of two half-shafts. Engine is a 2 cylinder air-cooled boxer unit with 1056 cc displacement that produces 15 hp and propelled the light car to a top speed of 80 kph.
The T11 was aimed at the "common man" but also had some successes in races, among them a victory in the 1100 cc class of the 1925 Targa Florio in Sicily. The car was produced from 1923 till 1926.
Ringhoffer-werke adopted the Tatra marque name for all vehicles produced after the success
of the T11. This 75 model was introduced in 1933 as a middle-class offer within a full
range of Tatra models up to a type with a 5990 cc V12 engine.
The 75 was the bigger brother of the T57, the volume model at the time, and has a 4 cylinder air-cooled boxer engine of 1688 cc, producing 30 hp and giving it a top speed of about 100 kph. It has been built up to 1942.
Hans Ledwinka and Tatra definitively made their name with the 1934 T77, a revolutionary streamlined model with an air-cooled V8 engine in the back. It set the standard for both Ferdinant Porsche and all Tatra cars up to the present day.
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