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Virtual Earth map of SKODA car factory

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The fairytale began in 1894 when a certain Mr. Foerster from Seidel & Naumann’s office in Ustí nad Labem denied to repair Mr. Bookseller Václav Klemen’s bike. Klement went furious and the refusal made him consider to start his own workshop, but technically gifted has never been his trade mark.

The same ideas did the blacksmith Václav Laurin have, too. At this time he totally disagreed with this employer. Mladá Boleslav wasn’t as large those days, so they must have known each other’s thoughts and ideas. A common friend, who was a lawyer, put the two men together and in December 1895 Laurin & Klement was founded.

After a very short period of repairing bikes the workshop started producing bikes on basis of imported parts from Great Britain. The bikes were sold under the patriotic name: Slavia. Now the fairytale speeded up.

In 1897 they added an engine to the bike. They were not markeded until 1898. L&K send their new innovation into motorsport to proof the quality and durability of the products from the company.

The construction - engine above the frontwheel and with drive on this wheel - was a bad contruction, so Laurin invented a constuction with a low centre of gravity and engine drive on the backwheel. This construction is still the principal in motorbike producition - even though it is modernized.

In the beginning of the previous century the four-wheeled vehicles were often seen in the streets. In 1905 Laurin & Klement put their first automobile into the market. Voituretta was the name, and it means small vehicle and the word is of French origin. Quality was still the code word for the L&K company.

The evolution accelerated. From being a small workshop of 120 sqm. Laurin & Klement in 1905 had a big, modern factory. L&K got synonymous with quality, and the customers were known as people with their economy in control.

L&K was no discount-product but was still producing cars after the customers’ wishes, until the factory was hit by a fire in 1924. That event turned the fairytale of the company to the end.

As it was often seen they were underinsured and it was fatal for this company, too. Klement, who was responsible for economical issues, had to go to Škoda in Plzeň in order to look for possibilities of a merger. Today you might call it an assumption. The two founders worked in the company until their death, but they never got any power in the leadership of the company.

When Škoda took over, the L&K-name slowly disappeared, but it was still expensive cars in small series that was the main products. After the depres-
sion in the 1930’ies it was necessesary to make changes, which meant cheaper cars and larger series, and the solution was ”cars for the people”.

Škoda still produced luxury cars like the Superb-model which were produced up to 1949. The first cars of this modelline were released in 1934.

At the beginning of the 1930’ies the engineers at Škoda had a car with an aircooled rear-engine in mind. But it was meant that the market were not ready for such
experiments, so one of the ”guys”, who had worked for Škoda several times - a certain Mr. Ferdinand Porsche - ”lent” the prototype, and later on showed this car to another wellknown man, Mr. Hitler. That car was presented as the KdF-Wagen (Kraft durch Freude) with only a few changes. Later on it was launched on saving stamps under the name "Volkswagen". If you look at the picture on the right and one of the first pictures of the KdF-Wagen you will se the similarities, and even though Škoda has very specific datas on all sold cars as well as prototypes - exactly this car is totally lost.

But the war made its footprints. On May 9th * which means after the capitulation * German bombers on their way home threw their bombs in the Škoda factory in Mladá Boleslav.

They had to start all over and the first cars after the war were practically cars from before the war with a new body work. All tecnical installations were pre-war products. In 1952 the first technical new car was shown. The re-newed part was the central tube with an all-steel-body.

The Škoda-seriea 1200 was a big, beautiful sedan which later came as pick-up and van, but around 1960 the braekthrough came, when models like Felicia and Octavia came on the market as a cheap alternative to the established carsmarks - primary from Germany and England.

In 1964 the wave with rear-engined cars came to Mladá Boleslav. A totally new factory was built for the 1000 MB (1000 year Mladá Boleslav), and it came after many, many fruitless attempts with prototypes. Škoda’s rearengine car was watercooled, but this type of car was allready on it’s way out of the market at the colleagues and competitors.

By the end of the 1960’ies it was time for another change of stile. Škoda’s engineers had developed cars with front engine and front wheeldrive - but NO - the projects were - according to the five-years-com-
munist-plans - meant to be effected together with GDR’s Wartburg. It was a great mistake because the cars were ready for production, but they never came into production.

So instead of an innovatic model Škoda launched the Š100 and later the 105 and 120-series. These models were unbelieveably popular in Denmark. In 1983 the Škoda 105/120 was the most sold model - 7.983 cars. But no success lasts forever and the comics, Nřrbygaard and Haugaard, stopped the Škoda sale. In 1989 the level reached the lowest with only 1265 sold cars - primary because the launch of the
Favorit in Denmark was very popular and it was not
possible to get all the cars nessesary to follow the

In 1987 the first real success - Favorit - was presented
by the factory. Since that time the history turned into a
different direction.

In March 1991 Volkswagen signed the contract on buying Škoda. First step meant buying of 30% of the shares, later the share went up to 49%. Third step meant buying up to 70% and in 2001 Škoda got a 100% owned subsidairy company of Volkswagen. At the same time the company logo was changed - even more times - and a fight with Škoda in Plzeň meant high costs.

As all these changes went on the Danes learned to love Škoda. The success started with the facelift of the Favorit-model in 1993. In 1995 the up-dated Favorit came: Felicia. In 1996 the Octavia was lauched and again big changes were on the way. Hugh new factories were built and the development up till today have been massive, among other things the welding now is made using laser and new paintshops are built in
Mladá Boleslav.

At the factory in Vrchlabí as well as in Kvasiny there
has been big changes, and Škoda has built a
brand new factory for the Superb model.

From homepage of the Danish Skoda Museum in Glamsbjerg in Denmark.


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