The Lane Motor Museum in the US city of Nashville made the news here in the Czech Republic recently when it commissioned a copy of a 1940s Tatra aero sledge or aero luge, a remarkable car on skis. It is just the latest addition to what the museum’s operators say is the largest collection of Czechoslovak cars outside Europe. I discussed its vintage vehicles with owner and auto enthusiast Jeff Lane on the phone from Nashville.
“I think we have 18 Tatras, three Aeros, two Skodas and a Jawa. So we probably have approximately Czechoslovakian cars.”
Of those, which are the most valuable or the rarest?
“That’s hard to say. They only made about 600 of the Jawa – that’s an extremely rare car. It’s pretty much unknown by anybody. The Aeros of course are extremely rare, because they were made in very low volumes. I think all the Tatras are very valuable too, but some of those were made in higher volumes so they would be more…I don’t want to say common, but more something that people had seen before, possibly.”
Do you travel here to the Czech Republic or Slovakia to purchase vehicles?
“Generally we don’t come just to purchase vehicles. We do come to the Czech Republic one to two times a year. A lot of it was related to the work with the aero luge…”
This aero luge is the vehicle on skis?
Could you tell us about that, for our listeners who haven’t heard about it?
“Well, from the history that I know – and I’m not an expert – it was built by the Nazis during World War II with the intent of moving people around on the western front, obviously in areas where it was very snowy and a regular vehicle couldn’t move them through the deep snow. I don’t know that it’s clear to anybody if they actually finished it and tested it before the war ended. Some people say they did test it, although they never actually took it to the Russian front. Some people say they never actually got it finished before the war ended. So I think that’s a little bit unclear at this point.”
Generally speaking, how do your American visitors react to these old Czechoslovak cars?
“I think people really enjoy seeing them, because it’s an area of the world that in the US people don’t know that much about. I think especially when they see the Tatras and how well engineered they were, and how technologically advanced they were…people never realise that Czechoslovakia was in the ‘20s and the ‘30s and the ‘40s a very industrially advanced part of the world. I think people are really intrigued to see what was done back then in that area of the world.”
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