Tatra: The Most Important Car Company You’ve Never Heard Of

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As much as owners hate to hear it, the Porsche 911 does have a direct lineage to the Volkswagen Beetle, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche’s “people’s car” designed for the German government in 1938. Teardrop shaped, rear-engined, slippery and aerodynamic, a 911 is unlike anything else on the road. It’s also set apart by being one of the last cars in the world to have its engine mounted behind the rear axle. So if the 911 came from the Beetle, where did the Beetle come from? That’s not an easy question to answer, but for a direct ancestor, you easily start with Tatra, the Czechoslovakian company that gave us one of the most enduring powertrain layouts in history, and built cars unlike anything that has come before or since.

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