ⓘ Tatra 12


ⓘ Tatra 12

The Tatra 12 is a model of vintage automobile made by Czech manufacturer Tatra. It was manufactured between 1926 and 1933. It was replaced by the Tatra 57 in 1932.

All Czech car manufacturers were making large and expensive cars at the beginning of the 1920s, which only the rich could afford. Some companies tried to introduce an inexpensive design, which would be affordable for the middle class. Tatras solution to this was the Tatra 11 of which the Tatra 12 is successor.


1. Design

Hans Ledwinka, Tatras designer, came up with a revolutionary idea of a backbone tube chassis, which he introduced on Tatra 11. Tatra 12 follows the same principles with the backbone tube, which has mounted the differential with swing half-axles at the rear. The gearbox has 4 speeds +reverse and the engine is on the top of it, while both are mounted on the front of the backbone tube.

The engine is a petrol flat two cylinder which is cooled by onslaught air. Thanks to this the expensive and heavy radiators could be avoided - this was an excellent idea at the time, when antifreeze was rather problematic.

The front axle has suspension by transverse leaf springs. While Tatra 11 had drum brakes only on the rear wheels, Tatra 12 had drum brakes all around.

The two-door four seat saloon had as the front seats nickel and later chrome plated cantilever tubular steel seats with folding backrests installed that inspired Mart Stam to design his own cantilever chair.


2. Versions

The chassis itself weighs around 500 kg 1.100 lb. There were many different bodies built on it. The chassis itself was also sold to other manufacturers to build their own car bodies on it.


2.1. Versions Weymann motor body

Most car bodies of the era were built by nailing metal plates on the wooden skeleton of the car. The wood was usually very rigid, often the ash-tree was used. This made the body very firm, but rather heavy.

Weymanns system was different. The wooden pieces were not mortised together, but only loosely put next to each other. The wooden pieces were merely touching each other and its ends were coated in a buffer material often leather. The wooden pieces were joined together via steel strips. This type of bodywork wasnt totally firm, but it allowed natural shifts which occur as the wood gets dry or wet. Such shifts made it impossible for use of metal sheets, therefore the exterior was covered in artificial leather.


2.2. Versions Normandie

The Normandie car bodies were following the popular and highly used cars in France. The cheaper version was often used as a utility car.


2.3. Versions Other versions

There were many other versions built both by Tatra itself, or other manufacturers who were building their own car bodies on top of the Tatra 12 chassis.