Skoda Turned 125 Years Old: Main Stages in the Brand’s History

Founded in 1895, Skoda is one of the oldest car manufacturers and celebrates its anniversary with a rather significant event – the launch of its first electric SUV, which will be released this year.

But, it all started with a two-wheeled vehicle.

Skoda Turned 125 Years Old: Main Stages in the Brand’s History photo 2

The history began in 1895

Skoda’s founding fathers met thanks to bicycles. According to legend, the German manufacturer refused to repair Vaclav Klement's bicycle and even refused to send spare parts. Stung, Clement decided to start servicing bicycle equipment on his own, together with partner Vaclav Laurin. Then, the partners started their own bicycle repair and manufacturing company, having called it ‘Laurin & Klement’. Their business went well, and four years later, in 1899, the company began to produce motorcycles and successfully! But Laurin and Klement wanted more and they started experimenting with cars, which started gaining popularity at that time.

Laurin & Klement A, 1905 Laurin & Klement A, 1905

Five years later, the partners showed the world their first car, the Laurin & Klement A (also known as the Voiturette A). It was a small two-seater car, more like a motorcycle, and it was a great success! The production expanded year after year, and soon the company's lineup also included trucks and small buses, and even agricultural machinery.

However, due to the difficult economic conditions in Bohemia at that time (the ‘20s of the last century), Laurin and Klement needed a strong industrial partner to strengthen and modernize their company. This is how the idea to merge with Skoda from Pilsen came about. This happened in 1925.

The first car to be produced as part of a joint partnership was the Laurin & Klement/Skoda 110, which was available in numerous modifications, including soft-top and hard-top versions. The original modular design with a removable rear section allowed the passenger car to be converted into a practical two-seat flatbed truck so that it could be used for work on weekdays and for family on weekends.

1930 – 1940

This period was difficult for the company, as the consequences of the great depression and the upcoming military conflict were felt by the entire world. Nevertheless, in 1934, the Skoda Popular was released – a simple and inexpensive car “for the people”, on the basis of which various versions from a delivery van to a convertible and a sports coupe were created.

Skoda Superb, 1934 Skoda Superb, 1934

At the same time, the Skoda Superb was also produced – a large representational model with a V8 engine that developed up to 120 km/h. The cars was 5.5 meters in length (for comparison, the length of the modern Superb is 4.87 meters).

In such a luxurious and civilian form, the Superb was produced before the Second World War, after which it was modified for military needs — it carried officers and was a staff car. The first generation of the model was produced several years after the war until 1949. Unfortunately, the Second World War did not spare Skoda’s factory in Mlada Boleslav. As a result of military operations and bombing, it was almost completely destroyed. After the war, the company was nationalized.

1950 – 1970

Skoda started to produce simple and affordable cars that were sold in large numbers: the Skoda 1200 (with various modifications), the Skoda 440 (renamed Octavia in 1959, because it was the eighth model released by the company after the end of World War II). By the way, the first Octavia was a two-door station wagon.

Skoda Octavia, 1959 and 2017 Skoda Octavia, 1959 and 2017

Also, the company with Skoda Sport tried its hand at the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 1964, the world saw the Skoda 1000 MB, one of the models that played an important role in the history of the company. It was a brand new car with a 1-liter four-cylinder engine located at the rear end. In May 1965, more than 1,000 cars rolled off the assembly line. Continuing to increase production, the company managed to make the 1000 MB model the first mass-produced Czech car.

Skoda 1000/1100 MB Skoda 1000/1100 MB

1980 – 1990

After the 1000 MB, 110 R and Felicia (its production would be resumed some time later in the new generation), the Favorit – a five-door hatchback designed by Bertone — came on the scene in 1987. With the changing political environment, changes were coming for Skoda as well. The company began to look for a strong partner. In 1991, Skoda joined the Volkswagen Group.

Skoda Favorit, 1987-1991 Skoda Favorit, 1987-1991

2000 – Present

Under the management of the Volkswagen Group, Skoda has received a new impetus to development. Over three decades, production has grown six times, and the Octavia, Fabia and Superb have found their customers and admirers. The Skoda SUV line-up was also launched. Today it includes the Kodiaq, Karoq and Kamiq. This year, the company begins the era of electrification.After 125 years, Skoda operates in more than 100 markets, delivering 1.24 million vehicles to customers around the world.

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