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Hagerty Employee

The Death Eaters, Chapter 1: Tatra T87 | Hagerty Media

Welcome to a new test series we're calling The Death Eaters. With the help of the Lane Motor Museum and Kentucky's wonderful NCM Motorsports Park, Hagerty is exploring the stories and real-world behavior of legendary cars with infamous handling. The stuff of lore, common and obscure, from turbo Porsches to Reliant three-wheelers.
105 REPLIES 105
New Driver

I would have the optional gyroscope installed in the back seat upon restoration. But that’s just me. 


A story very well told. The technical stuff was fascinating as well. Thank you.
Intermediate Driver

So much for Czechs and balances…..

Interesting that when he rolled it a lot of bondo came out. Methinks he’s not the first to do this.

New Driver

Yikes. Some of those "tucked in" photos remind me of the time I went to pick up my Dad at the bus stop in our 61 or 62 Corvair wagon. We lived in a very rural area, roads were paved though, we called them the hard road- mostly tar and chip. Winding and twisty. I was admittedly young, 16 or 17, but semi-responsible?! Although .. when my parents weren't around I would take their retired 53 Plymouth Cranbrook 4 door "over the river and through the woods" on our 17 acres and drive it like Parnelli Jones just to see what it would do. Had a blast. Semi-responsible like I said. Good training. Maybe saved me ...

So here I go on the way to pick up my civil engineer USMC Major Dad who thought reveille should be played in the morning. A good song was on the radio. but still, it's a wagon. About 5 or 6 miles to the main artery connecting Pittsburgh to points North. So at or near the speed limit of 35. All of a sudden going around a right hand curve this car was on two wheels! I'm talking near a gnat's eyelash point of no return rollover. Not a predicted response, that little twitch beforehand didn't get enough of my attention. Got it together and it bounced back down on all four. Luckily no car was coming the other was as I needed that side of the road too. Stopped and took a couple of minutes to collect my thoughts on why, why, and then continued on. Car was acting strangely though, what am I going to tell my disciplinarian father? Tried two stories, the first one he didn't buy, the second seemed plausible and it bought me some time. Didn't mention being on two wheels. He drove it home from the bus stop, he was strangely quiet.

Our neighbor Ernie worked for a large Chevrolet dealership- of which many years later I would become Service Director for 5 years. My Dad asked him to look at the car. I was sweating it out. A couple of nights later he picked up the car with two replaced wheels and calmly said to me "Ernie told me to tell you that the next time you go around a corner, go around on four wheels instead of two."

Didn't get the strap. I survived two near misses. And I later remembered that twitch driving an early 911 that kept me out of trouble- not a car for novices.
New Driver

I’ve toured Lane’s Museum and it’s a beautiful place to spend a few relaxed hours. Thank you to Jeff Lane, but why in the name of corn-on-the-cob was Smith pushing this museum piece as hard as he did? Non-destructive testing is now considered en vogue. It is embarrassing on many levels and the car looks terrible. I’ve seen it in person.

New Driver

This is a well known trait of swing axle rear suspensions. My '68 Triumph GT6 had this rear suspension, and when auto-crossed the rear would rise as it was jacking. For normal driving through corners, the lateral force on the outside tire was balanced by almost the same force on the inside wheel. No jacking until the inside tire was unloading enough to no longer balance the lateral force on the outside one. The Brits later came up with a fix for these swing axle cars that included a pivot at the center of the transverse leaf spring, increased rear track width, and more negative camber. The result was no weight transfer at the rear tires, and no jacking. A friend with this rear "swing spring" did not like the increased negative camber, and traded with me. I warned him of this jacking effect, but he insisted and later rolled his car, just like your Tatra did.