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TWO BODIES IN ONE:

LAURIN & KLEMENT ŠKODA 110

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Proof that the ‘Simply Clever’ philosophy can be found in the very DNA of ŠKODA is the emphasis that its developers and designers have traditionally placed on the “simple sophistication” of its cars, starting from the initial design. One example is the 110 model shown here, the representative of the last generation of Laurin & Klement as well as the first Mladá Boleslav “ŠKODA”. In 1925, the L&K brand merged with the strong strategic partner of ŠKODA in the city of Plzeň.

The basic model of the Laurin & Klement ŠKODA 110 boasted a well-developed and tested robust design. The chassis, with its ladder frame and 295 cm wheelbase, gave customers the choice of four versions of practical enclosed bodies, a roadster, or a four- or six-seater phaeton nicknamed the “bathtub”. In other words, an open car with seats in two or three rows. The middle row could be fully folded down if desired, freeing up legroom for the rear passengers. The tiltable windshield came in handy on hot days, and in the event of a flat tire, the driver did not have to remove the luggage thanks to the pair of easily accessible spare wheels on the sides of the front bonnet.

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At a time when cars were still considered superfluous luxury items, ŠKODA came up with an ingenious solution. A combined body was developed that merged the benefits of a passenger car with a 500-kg payload two-seater flatbed. The dimensions of the cargo area were 175x158x40 cm, with the loading edge placed less than a meter above the ground. The front part of the vehicle, including the front seats, remained fixed, while the rear extension of the utility vehicle which the small businessman used for transporting his goods could be swapped out quickly and easily, thus transforming it into a full-fledged four-passenger car for the weekend. The businessman and his family could then take the car on a trip or vacation. Keep in mind that in 1925, it was still typical to work on Saturdays, and the Czechs had been enjoying the new Law of Sunday Rest for a mere 20 years.

THE ESSENTIALS CLOSE AT HAND:

ŠKODA 256

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ŠKODA in Mladá Boleslav has been continuously producing two-track motor vehicles since 1906, placing Laurin & Klement/ŠKODA among automakers with the world’s longest and richest traditions. Alongside passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles were one of the pillars of the company's success right from the beginning. Large-scale technical components were frequently shared among vehicles, thus greatly reducing production and service costs. The highly sophisticated six-cylinder 80 hp (59 kW) engine supplied with the ŠKODA Superb series also powered the ŠKODA 256 truck with its 2500-3000 kg capacity. The factory also offered versions run on alternative fuel – wood gas. It was 25% less powerful, but at the time, hardwood was much cheaper and more available than alcohol-petrol fuel.

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Alongside passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles were one of the pillars of the company's success right from the beginning.

In front of the right rear wheel were four levels of closable boxes with sliding tool compartments for the driver and his assistant. The upper box also protected the horizontally stored spare wheel from dirt, moisture, and sunlight, which back then posed a significant threat to the lifespan of the very expensive and vulnerable tires.

The years 1939-1947 saw the production of 5514 vehicles of the ŠKODA 256 series, ranging from flatbeds to buses to specialty vehicles that included mobile workshops, ambulances, and radio trucks. Given the truck’s overall dimensions and weight, the vehicle had dual rear wheels. In the 1940’s, modern gritting vehicles were not available to road workers. The Mladá Boleslav ŠKODA engineers came up with several ingenious innovations with the ‘Simply Clever’ philosophy in mind to ease the otherwise difficult lives of professional drivers. In the unused space beneath the bed behind the left rear wheel, they incorporated a slide-out box that held road grit. They added a practical tin shovel, thereby providing immediate traction to slipping tires.

 

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KING OF THE DRIFT:

ŠKODA POPULAR

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In 1936, its production volume and export to over 50 countries around the world made this Mladá Boleslav carmaker the leader in Czechoslovakia. Its key to success lay in vehicles that were ingeniously designed, highly reliable, and affordable to purchase and operate – the ŠKODA Popular and the larger Rapid. These cars held substantial extra value in their excellent drivability, guaranteed by their independent all-wheel suspension, lightweight yet rigid backbone chassis, and extra space for the driver and co-driver’s legs by moving the gearbox to the rear axle.

In the first series of the Popular, delivered without a differential, the rear wheels engaged uniformly, rarely spinning on wet grass, mud, and debris. In 1934, a team of four Populars took on a challenging expedition from Prague to Calcutta via Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan. The next year, Břetislav J. Procházka overcame a rocky hiking trail to reach the top of Sněžka Mountain!

In February of 1935, Mladá Boleslav technicians set out to the Špindler’s Mill ski area to test out new accessories designed to ease the supply of mountain chalets in the winter. The gendarmerie and finance guard also needed a similar vehicle for patrolling the border along the mountain ridges, since up to that point they had been forced to rely on their own skis or slow horse-drawn sleighs.

Metal skis were attached to the steered front wheels of the Popular, while the rear drive wheels were fitted with chains. The tests showed that the skis needed to be welded instead of riveted, had to be about 2 cm narrower than the front tracks, and the skis should be made of waxed ash wood to prevent snow from sticking. Driving in first gear allowed for the twenty-horsepower engine torque to be put to full use, and ŠKODA’s ingenious new design could now tow several skiers behind it. Modified with the ‘Simply Clever’ philosophy in mind, it actually substituted for the ski lifts, which back then were still in little use.

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