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Tatra V570 was a prototype early 1930s car developed by a team led by Hans Ledwinka and Paul Jaray. The aim of the construction team was to develop cheap people's car with an aerodynamic body. However the company's management decided that the revolutionary ideas introduced in the prototype should be introduced in class of large luxurious cars, and therefore the team abandoned the project of small cars in favour of Tatra T77, world's first serially produced aerodynamic car.The project of small car was later continued and led to introduction of Tatra T97. The second V570 was built in 1933, two years before the first Volkswagen which bears a strong resemblance to the Tatra - it was misappropriated by Hitler and Dr. Porsche in circumstances about which the German company remains intensely sensitive.

History

In the early 1930s Tatra engineers, under the direction of Hans Ledwinka's son Erich and design engineer Erich Übelacker, started work on the development of a small people's car with a rear-mounted engine in a backbone frame. Ledwinka believed that rear-mounted engine RR layout would bring with it several big advantages - i.e. reducing the efficiency loss, noise and vibration of the propeller shaft of the FR layout. No propeller shaft meant there would be a flat floor with no need for central floor tunnel so that the passengers seating position would be lower and well forward of the rear axle, which would lead to a lower centre of gravity, more favourable inter-axle weight distribution, and lower overall height. Mounting the engine in the rear would mean shortening the front part of the body to make a longer tail possible, which was consistent with the laws of aerodynamics. Also, engine noise would not disturb the passengers and would not be heard when driving at a speed of over 50 km/h. Air-cooling would be simpler and more effective at coping with the extremes of temperatures during depths the winter and height of summer, than water cooling systems of the time, due to the climate in Central-Europe.As the company was considering to start manufacturing aeroplanes, it got experience with laws of aerodynamics and decided to apply them for the prospective car.

First prototype

The initial proposal of the concept was presented by Tatra designer Erich Überlacker, who previously worked on the Tatra 57 car. However at the time Überlacker's proposal was strongly criticised by Ledwinka. When he was facing the prospect of leaving the company, he finally presented the project with aerodynamic car body with a teardrop rear, which would be used to accommodate the whole drive-line of the car. Paul Jaray, the noted Zeppelin designer, produced a prototype aerodynamic body for the Tatra 57. Überlacker was a mercurial young engineer with great imagination and a lot of enthusiasm - however he lacked the perseverance needed to bring his ideas to perfection, and that is when Ledwinka stepped in to finish the work, which might otherwise have come to nothing. The new design was initially tried under a body, which was not aerodynamic (the first V570 prototype). Two pieces of the first V570 were made in 1931.

Second prototype

The work on the second prototype's aerodynamic body started. The second prototype used patents of the streamlining principles of Paul Jaray. It was very similar to the first prototype, but this time it was equipped with aerodynamic body.The lower part was supposed to follow the lines of aeroplane wing, while the upper part was supposed to be added on top of it. The rear mudguards were incorporated into the body and the rear wheels were covered. The remnants of front mudguards became also part of the front bonnet. The running boards were abandoned and accessories (i.e. door handles) were recessed into the body. The floor was flat and enclosed. The front window was inclined at a 45° angle.

The positioning of the engine at the rear and its cooling became a difficult task, which is demonstrated also by the large number of patents considering the airflow to the rear engine compartment which Tatra registered at the time. The initial prototype had an engine derived from Tatra 57 two-seater.

The final design had four seats. The engine was a two-cylinder air-cooled boxer 854 cc with power of 18 HP at 3500 RPM. The engine, gear-box and half-axles were all in one unit. The simple two door body had a timber frame. Although it was made only to test different design ideas, it had good handling. It could easily reach speeds of 80 km/h.

The responsibility for final construction was given to Hans Ledwinka's son Erich.

Serial production was considered, however the Tatra 57's outstanding commercial success precluded it, the principles of V570 were later used in Tatra T77 and Tatra T97 designs.

The car was later sold and its owner used it daily for 30 years, before it was handed back to Tatra factory museum.