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Tampa Bay Automobile Museum: 1) Museum Overview and its Czech collection

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum

 

One of the great pleasures of traveling is discovering those special places -- gems that aren't necessarily very famous or perhaps are off the beaten path, but still so very worthwhile visiting.  So it was with the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum which I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon visiting last week.

 

Situated in a light industrial area just outside of Tampa in Pinellas County, the museum abuts a factory run by the owner of the wonderful car collection I'm about to share with you.  The factory is Polypack (manufactures packaging machinery) and its owner is Alain Cerf.  Mr. Cerf is an immigrant from France, a man with obvious exquisite taste in cars and the means to indulge his hobby.  I enjoy people who are passionate about things in life and was delighted to  have an afternoon to explore Mr Cerf's passion -- his fascinating car collection, as will you be when you visit his museum.  The museum is a celebration -- of the genius of man and of his creations, the beautiful and innovative automotive machines on display within its walls.

 

The Museum's collection mostly focuses on European cars from the first half of the 20th century, although some American and later model vehicles are also to be found.  Everyone at the museum was extremely friendly and welcoming and allowed me to nearly wear out the shutter on my camera taking photos.  I want to thank them for their hospitality and for allowing us to share these images with you.  Most of the descriptions of cars I'll be presenting are abstracted from the museum's website, so please explore it and by all means, GO see this wonderful museum when in the Tampa area.

 

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 005b overviewTampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 004 overview

(Overview of a portion of the car collection, Tampa Bay Automobile Museum)

 

This blog post is the first in a four part series on the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum and features its cars from the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) with which I really was not well-acquainted before my visit.  Cars in future blog posts are presented by country of origin (because I found it easiest to organize them this way).  It would also have logical to compare the cars by year of production or similarity of design, but here they are.  The car numbering sequence I've assigned is completely random.  Some photos are included with this text, and there is an extensive slide show of these lovely machines below which you can click on and scroll through if you're interested.

 

The collection features a number of cars by Tatra, the first car manufacturer in Central Europe (Czech Republic) which specialized in upscale cars with air-cooled engines.  It's an interesting company whose car production was influenced by WWII and decades of Communist occupation.  Tetra's car production ended in 1999, although the company still makes trucks.

 

Car 1:  Aero (Czech)

Produced:  1934 - 1940.  1205 cars

Aero is know for designing a front wheel drive car with a 4 cylinder, 2 L, two-stroke engine.  The Aero in this collection was exported to France before coming to the USA.  The car is in superb condition, with only its paint needing refinishing.

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 014 1937 Aero

  

Car 2 : Tatra T26-30 (Czech)

Produced 1929-1930.  181 cars.  Obviously a rare car.

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 008 1936 Tatra 26-30

 

Car 3:  Tatra T75 (Czech)

Produced 1934-1939.  4000 cars

Based on the Tetra T11 design introduced in 1923, a revolutionary car (two cylinders, air-cooled 1056 cc, rear wheels on swing axles).  The T75 is Tetra's last car built on the T11 design.  The T75 has an air-cooled four cylinder engine, 1688 cc.

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 026 1934 Tatra T75 

 Car 4: Tatra T87 (Czech)

Produced 1937 - 1948.  3023 cars

Like something out of a Flash Gordon film!  Featured aerodynamic bodywork inspired by Zeppelin designer, Paul Jaray.  It had a rear mounted, air-cooled, overhead cam V-8 capable of producing speeds of more than 100 mph (150 km/h).  Its body was made of steel, and it was the preferred car of German officers during their occupation of Czechoslovakia.  Less than 100 remain.

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 020 1934 Tatra T87

 

Car 5: Tatra T97 (Czech)

Produced: 1938-1939.  510 cars

Smaller than the T87 but with the same body and rear-mounted engine.  Production ended when the Germans invaded and put a stop to the T97 (rumored to be because it was too similar to the Volkswagen which was just being introduced).  As such, it is a very rare car.

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 042 1938 Tatra T97

 

 

Car 6: Tatraplan (Czech)

Produced 1946 - 1951. 6342 cars 

Designed after WWII, with Communist influences.  Less expensive than some others.  The engine was air cooled.  A few were exported to Canada and Belgium.  This vehicle in the collection is new except for some new paint and chrome plating.

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 033 1946 Tatra Tetraplan

 

 

Car 7Tatra 603 (Czech)

Produced 1956-1978.  20,822 cars

Larger limousine style car sold in the Eastern block countries, mainly used by officials of the Communist party.  It was a comfortable fast car capable of speeds exceeding 150 km/h (100 mph).  The car in this collection has had its paint and chrome redone; the engine new stock from Tatra, but it is otherwise original.

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 053 1967 Tatra 603

 

Car 8: Maserati Sebring Series II (Italy)

Produced 1965 - 1967.  243 cars

Included here for my convenience.  The only Italian car in the collection is a beaut!

Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 2013 059 1967 Masareti Sebring Series II

 

Also in this series on the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum:

Part 2.  The German cars

Part 3.  The UK and USA cars

Part 4.  French cars (coming soon -- and the best of this collection)

 

Attachments

Images (44)
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum: Exterior view of the building
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum: Overview of a portion of the collection
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum: Overview of a portion of the collection
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Aero (Czech)
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Aero (Czech)
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Aero (Czech)
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1936 Tatra 26-30
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1936 Tatra 26-30
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1936 Tatra 26-30
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1936 Tatra 26-30
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1934 Tatra T75
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1934 Tatra T75
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1934 Tatra T75
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1934 Tatra T75
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1934 Tatra T75
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Tatra T87
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Tatra T87
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Tatra T87
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Tatra T87
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Tatra T87
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1937 Tatra T87
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1938 Tatra T97
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1938 Tatra T97
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1938 Tatra T97
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1938 Tatra T97
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1938 Tatra T97
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1938 Tatra T97
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1938 Tatra T97
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1946 Tatra Tetraplan
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1946 Tatra Tetraplan
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1946 Tatra Tetraplan
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1946 Tatra Tetraplan
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1946 Tatra Tetraplan
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1946 Tatra Tetraplan
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Tatra 603
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Tatra 603
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Tatra 603
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Tatra 603
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Tatra 603
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Masareti Sebring Series II
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Masareti Sebring Series II
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Masareti Sebring Series II
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Masareti Sebring Series II
  • Tampa Bay Automobile Museum 1967 Masareti Sebring Series II

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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Comments (8)

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Actually, there are a number of different stories of how Ferdnand Porsche, under Hitler's direction, designed the Beetle. Another fascinating possibility surfaced last year in the Daily Mail (UK), showing similarities to a project by a German Jewish engineer, Josef Ganz, which Hitler saw at an auto show in 1933.

 

Another aspect: the sort of streamlined design represented in all of these cars was not a unique design at the time; aerodynamic research was starting to have an effect on car design in many places. The similarity of shapes probably owes more to that than to any actual copying. Here's one that actually made it into mass production, years before WWII, and only a year after Hitler saw Ganz's concept car: the Chrysler/Desoto Airflow designs from 1934, a car before its time.

 

desoto airflow

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Images (1)
  • desoto airflow

Thanks for the comments, guys.  I really was not aware of what beautiful and innovative designs the Czechs had.  I can believe that they are reliable.  And I can believe that Adolf Hitler was capable of doing almost anything.  Stealing the plans for a car seems almost a footnote in his twisted mind.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

 

The most popular car in the world is believed to be Czech.

The plans for the VW Beetle (similar to the T97 above) were found by the invading forces and were presented to Adolf who then laid claim to it being a German design.

Czech cars in Europe are very popular and reliable.

 

Skoda Superb

 

Capturesuperb

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Images (1)
  • Capturesuperb
Last edited by GarryRF

Thank you Drfumblefinger! I had no clue about this museum and his unique collection. I am especially fond of cars I don't see everywhere, and  some of those Czech models, I didn't even  existed

 

I've been to car museums in Sarasota and the Tallahassee area, so Florida does have its share of good car museums

If you want a thing done, ask a busy man.

Last edited by PHeymont

Thanks for a look at some cars we never see, even in museums. That Tatra 26-30 is a very odd duck indeed. In the slideshow, you can see it has 3 axles (double in the rear) so it must have been intended for some serious load--and up front, an engine compartment with no grill (and what looks like a hole for an engine crank!) Seriously...you kinda see why there were only 181 made...

 

Looking forward to the rest!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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