Just today, we learned that Skoda delivered a record number of vehicles in the first nine months of 2010, increasing its operating profit by a whopping 64%. This is what most people know about the Czech automaker; that it has been a wild success since Volkswagen took over the reins of the company. But there are others -myself included- who think the real glory of Skoda lies in its past.
When the Germans arrived in 1990 (this time with more peaceful intentions), Skoda really needed a strong partner if it wanted to stay afloat. The first fruit of their "love" was the updated Favorit, stamped with a "VW System" badge. That meant it had received fuel injection, instead of a carburetor, and a slightly updated interior. It was better than the original Favorit, launched in 1987, but still a long way from being a good car.
A decade later, the firm's range includes cars like the Fabia, Octavia and Superb. Skoda's modern day success is anything but a coincidence. The Czechs worked diligently under German supervision. And today they build cars that some consider being better than Volkswagens. Talk about a student surpassing his master…
But what these modern cars don't have is the soul of a 1905 Laurin-Klement Voiturette A, a 1924 Skoda Hispano-Suiza, or even the original 1934 Superb.
Yes, Skoda's history goes well beyond these past twenty years. It all started in 1895 with the partnership of Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement, two bicycle enthusiasts and fabricators, who after 4 years in the business, began manufacturing motorcycles.
By 1905 they were ready to take the next big step: building automobiles. That's when the Voiturette A stormed Europe and made Laurin-Klement a truly international company.
In the mid 20s, after two decades of constant expansion, Lauren-Klement joined forces with Pilsen Skoda Co. and thus the Skoda brand was born.
Choosing the ultimate historic model is quite hard, because we all have different tastes. So let's choose all of them. Behold the artistic gallery of classic Skoda models, released in 1991, which says so much more than written words.
By Csaba Daradics
Images via: Skoda Club - Many thanks to Horváth Krisztián