20-year journey: A Tatra makes its way to Pebble Beach

20-year journey: A Tatra makes its way to Pebble Beach

Imagine spending 20 years on a vehicle’s restoration and then, just a few days after its completion, you pack up your baby and entrust it to a shipping company.

Pavel Kasik and his Tatra T77 | Pavel Kasik Archive courtesy Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

Pavel Kasik and his Tatra T77 | Pavel Kasik Archive courtesy Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Imagine spending 20 years on a vehicle’s restoration and then, just a few days after its completion, you pack up your baby and entrust it to a shipping company, all in expectation of a reunion 4,279 miles away. Pavel Kasik was willing to accept that scenario because the reunion will take place on the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Kasik lives in the Czech Republic and at an early age became enthusiastic about and then an expert in vehicles produced by his country’s historic automaker, Tatra. A class of eight Tatras will be featured in August at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. One of those cars will be the Tatra T77 that Kasik has just completed restoring.

Although Tatra is considered the world’s third-oldest automaker — behind only Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot with production beginning in 1897 — this is the first time the cars will be featured at Pebble Beach.

“The Tatra made its mark with leading technology like its rear-mounted, air-cooled engine and streamlined style,” concours chairman Sandra Button was quoted in a news release. “We are particularly thrilled to be hosting eight Tatras this year. The cars will be coming from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States.”

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A number of collectors were interested in the purchase too, but only I persevered to the end.”

— Pavel Kasik

 

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“The Tatra was one of the most interesting and well-developed engineering and design intersections of the Art Deco period,” added car designer Raffi Minasian. “It may have lacked the usual flamboyance of traditional French coachbuilders . . . but it manifested the expression of Art Deco design as a merger of science and industry where form was dictated by function.”

Tatra was the first automaker to do serial production of a car designed with aerodynamics and efficiency in mind. Designed by Paul Jaray, who was among the first to experiment with aerodynamic efficiency, and engineered by the legendary Hans Ledwinka, the Tatra T77 was constructed on a central tube-steel chassis. Powered by a rear-mounted, air-cooled, 3.4-liter V8, the car could reach speeds of 95 miles per hour.

Ferdinand Porsche admitted that he was influenced by the Tatra as he was creating the much smaller people’s car, the Volkswagen Beetle.

Kasik’s family acquired its first Tatra in 1978 after their car was damaged in a crash and Kasik’s father bought a Tatra taxi-limousine T30 as a temporary replacement. By age 15, Kasik had purchased his own classic T87.

In 1991, Kasik found a T77 and had to have it.

Here's how the car looked not that long ago } Kasik Archive courtesy Pebble Beach

Here’s how the car looked not that long ago } Kasik Archive courtesy Pebble Beach

“During nearly three years of negotiations, the previous owner constantly changed the conditions and increased prices,” Kasik told the concours organizers.

“A number of collectors were interested in the purchase too, but only I persevered to the end. It was not certain if the purchase would be successful till the last moment.”

In college, Kasik studied architecture and monument restoration and was eager to undertake an automotive restoration project. But it took years to find all the original parts he needed for his T77, and thus the two decades needed to complete the restoration.

And then, just as the car was finished, he had to ship it across an ocean.

The Tatra is on its way | Kasik archive courtesy Pebble Beach

The Tatra is on its way | Kasik archive courtesy Pebble Beach

“Participating in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the goal and dream of every lover of historic cars,” Kasik said. “Even though it’s been 80 years since the T77 launched, I hope it will be an interesting experience for the Pebble Beach Concours worldwide audience.”

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