The history of this particular Tatra T77 would be unacceptably incomplete without knowledge of the history of the car’s American owner, Andy Simo, and his family.
Andy Simo was born in 1938 in a small village outside of the city of Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. He had humble roots and his first home had a dirt floor. He saw firsthand the persecution of neighbors, friends, and family members at the hands of the Nazis. After the end of the war Andy got his first ride in an automobile, a Tatra T77. That experience of riding in an automobile designed with aerodynamic principles in mind created a love within him for the T77 and would help determine his path in life.
His family emigrated to the United States in 1948 and Andy went on to study Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue University in Indiana. He went to work for Boeing on the 727 airliner, Lockheed on the C5A Galaxy heavy-lifter, and then Martin-Marietta on the first stage of the Saturn V moon rocket. Andy loved hunting and brought his knowledge of engineering and aerodynamics to the sport of archery when he founded New Archery Products. It was a great fit. Andy had several wonderful classic automobiles over the years that included marques like Jaguar, MGs, Packard, Stutz, Pontiac, and Mercedes.
He looked for a T77 to restore and until 2007 there were none to be found. He recognized that its restoration would be a challenge. None of the well known restoration shops in the US ever heard of a Tatra and none had any experience restoring one. That didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream, and work began in earnest in 2011. Under Andy’s watchful eye, the car was carefully disassembled and each part was cataloged with photographs. In 2016 Andy moved the Tatra to a different restoration shop. Dan McMahon of International Auto Restoration had just completed the restoration of a T87 that was displayed at the Pebble Beach Concourse in 2014 and took third place in its class. Simo wanted more than just a Show Car. His dream was to drive the automobile as he envisioned himself as an eight year old boy after his ride in a T77.
Sadly and unexpectedly, Andy died in May of 2017. His wife Cherie, daughter Melanie, and son Steven understood Andy’s passion for excellence and his love for this unusual automobile that had such a profound effect on Andy’s life. Restoration would continue until it was completed, roadworthy, and restored to Andy’s standards. That restoration was completed in Fall of 2022.
Andy used to say that he was less of an owner of wonderful classic automobiles, but instead their caretaker. The Simo family hopes that this automobile’s next caretaker loves the car as much as Andy would have.
The car will be sold at auction at the Amelia Island Concours in March 2023 through RM Sotheby’s.