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Proud ŠKODA has been around for more than 120 years

ŠKODA celebrated its 2015th anniversary in December 120. This makes it one of the longest existing car brands in the world. The car manufacturer's roots lie in the pioneering days of the automobile. ŠKODA can therefore look back on a rich history with numerous and defining car icons. As part of the Volkswagen Group, ŠKODA has developed into an international volume manufacturer over the past decades. In the coming years, ŠKODA will further expand the model range.

Within the Skoda Museum in Mlada Boleslav, various manufactures from the early production years of the Czech brand are on display. Image: Skoda
Within the Skoda Museum in Mlada Boleslav, various manufactures from the early production years of the Czech brand are on display. Image: Skoda

The beginning
It all started in December 1895, when bicycle mechanic Václav Laurin and businessman Václav Klement businessman founded the company Laurin & Klement (L&K). What started as a small bicycle repair shop soon developed into a recognized bicycle manufacturer. The bicycles, which were a success both at home and abroad, were sold under the brand name 'Slavia'. Four years later, Laurin & Klement started producing motorcycles.


The first car: Voiturette A
In 1905, the company made its breakthrough in the automotive industry with the launch of the Voiturette A. This car had a 7-horsepower two-cylinder engine and reached a maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour. The range was quickly expanded. In 1907, L&K was the largest car manufacturer in the former monarchy of Austria-Hungary with nine models - from small two-cylinder cars and a four-cylinder racing car to vans and buses.

Political and economic setback
The First World War, the post-war aftermath and the crisis of the 20s had a major negative impact on the further development of L&K. In order to strengthen their market position, L&K merged in 1925 with the ŠKODA works in Pilsen, then the largest company in the Czech Republic. By joining forces with ŠKODA, the company was able to grow again and resume car production in Mladá Boleslav.

The controversial pre-war Skoda was the Popular Sport Monte Carlo. Photo: Skoda / Pon
The controversial pre-war Skoda was the Popular Sport Monte Carlo. Photo: Skoda / Pon

Important!
several important ŠKODA models were born in the '30' years. The first affordable car for the people was the ŠKODA 420 Popular. Other models - such as the ŠKODA 640 Superb - followed. This prestigious six-cylinder flagship symbolized the success of ŠKODA at that time. The Second World War unfortunately brought an end to this positive development.

Nationalization and socialist planned economy
ŠKODA was nationalized after the Second World War. Even under the difficult conditions of the socialist planned economy, a number of important models were developed in the more than 40 year as a state-owned company: the ŠKODA 1101 'Tudor', the ŠKODA 440 'Spartak' and the legendary ŠKODA Felicia Roadster. In 1964, ŠKODA reached a new milestone with the 1000 MB, the first ŠKODA with self-supporting body, rear-wheel drive and the rear engine. That power source was a special one: it was the first series-produced cast aluminum motor in the world. For years, the Czechs produced cars based on this reading. The developments in the West and Japan, among others, put the Czechs behind in several areas.

Sixties Skoda with progressive engine. The 1000 MB.
Sixties Skoda with self-supporting body and progressive engine. The 1000 MB received the first series-produced cast aluminum motor in the world. Photo: Skoda / Pon

Progress and political upheaval
In 1987, however, ŠKODA launched the Favorit. A new front-wheel drive compact car designed by the Italian design studio Bertone. For a country in what was then the Eastern Bloc, this development meant a car revolution. Less than two years later, the socialist planned economy collapsed. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, ŠKODA needed a strong, strategic partner. The merger with the Volkswagen Group in 1991 marked a decisive step to grow the brand into one of the greatest success stories in the recent history of the automobile. The biggest and best proof of this is the six-fold increase in ŠKODA sales between 1991 and 2014. In 2014, the brand sold more than 1 million cars in one calendar year for the first time.

Important player
From a brand with one model in 1991, ŠKODA once again grew to an established order that offers a sophisticated range with around 40 model variants. It became a valuable brand that has taken on a permanent, appealing and important position within the automotive industry. The Czechs can be proud of it.

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