Including too much innovation in a model intended for large-scale production is always a rather risky choice. This is confirmed by what we see today: in fact, cars nowadays are so incredibly similar to each other that we can only tell who made them by checking the brand. Back in the 1930s, the little Tatra from which Ferdinand Porsche drew inspiration (to put it kindly!) for the VW Beetle seemed too ahead of its times, and the company therefore decided to develop the “streamlining” concept solely on its higher range models.
This was a company seeking to establish its own identity through what was, at the time, a unique approach. A beautiful example is the T77 with the long tail and rear fin. The year was 1934 and Deco style was prevalent, as shown by Bugatti. But there was also a great innovative drive under way. These were the “crazy years”, which turned into a kind of race to exceed, and in this sense, Tatra certainly stood out. It achieved its prominence mainly by combining functionality and a great driving experience with bold solutions, such as large air-cooled V8 engines mounted in the overhang behind the rear axle, so as to leave as much room as possible for the occupants, their luggage and even the spare wheels (Tatras had two of these!).
Among various efforts to optimize the vehicle performance, particular attention was paid to the design of the underbody. If you consider that it wasn’t until the 1970s that the world of Formula 1 began to appreciate the beneficial effects of properly managed air flows under cars, you can appreciate just how enlightened Hans Ledwinka, the firm’s technical director and the true author of its success, really was.