In the world of Iron Curtain vehicles, Czechoslovakia's Tatra stands out from the rest of the badge-engineered Third World cars. Founded in 1850 as a producer of horse-drawn carriages, Tatra eventually branched out into railroad cars. Then, inspired by the purchase of a 1897 Benz, Tatra showcased its first vehicle in Vienna. Austrian engineer Hans Ledwinka involvement with that car led to Tatra's introduction of the Type A in 1900. This time, Hans was completely responsible for its engineering and design.
However, Ledwinka's crowning achievement was 1933's Tatra T77, an aerodynamic, rear-engined sedan built on a tube-steel chassis. More notable features were a 3.4-liter air-cooled V-8 with overhead valves and hemispherical heads, independent suspension, and liberal use of lightweight magnesium alloys for the motor, suspension, and body. In 1946, Tatra's production was nationalized, and two years later the Communists took over.