History: Tracing the Škoda Superb from its 1930s origins through generations of innovation

Škoda Superb Hatch
› More than 1,600,000 units of the Superb manufactured to date
› The “Superb” name has a long tradition as the designation of the Czech car manufacturer’s top model
› The fourth modern Superb generation continues this legacy, featuring advanced technologies and an enhanced design

Mladá Boleslav, 29 May 2024 – The first generation of the modern Škoda Superb was launched in 2001 – nearly seven decades after the original Superb’s debut in 1934. To date, more than 1,600,000 units have been manufactured. Over the years, both the Hatch and Combi estate body styles have garnered numerous international accolades and awards from renowned car magazines.

The forerunner: The first landmark Superb model in the 1930s

In 1934, Škoda switched from a ladder frame to a new chassis concept and changed its naming conventions. The now famous Popular, Rapid and Favorit models were introduced to the public. Rounding out the line‑up was the new range‑topping four‑door saloon, the Škoda Superb. The Superb adopted a new solid chassis with a backbone tube and an independent suspension featuring transverse leaf springs. Other strengths included an advanced 12‑volt electrical system and single‑circuit hydraulic drum brakes. For great performance, it was powered by a smooth, straight‑six flathead engine with a displacement of 2,492 cm³, mated to a manual four‑speed gearbox with synchronised third and fourth gears. Most important, however, was the car’s ride comfort – a virtue that is still emphasised in the new generation of the Superb. The Škoda Superb was produced in several series, differing in design, bodywork, seating capacity and engines fitted. In 1939, Škoda introduced the most powerful version of the Superb. The Superb 4000 was the very first Škoda to feature an all‑new overhead‑valve V8 engine with a displacement of 3,990 cm³ and 72 kW of power. During the Second World War, the Superb was produced as a personnel carrier and military ambulance, but also as a command cabriolet. A silver Superb 913 from 1936, a black Superb 3000 OHV from 1939, a golden Superb 4000 OHV from 1948 and the only surviving Superb 4000 OHV with a larger V8 engine from 1940 in dark brown are on display in the Škoda Museum. The Museum also has an earlier example, a black‑beige Superb 640 from 1935, currently undergoing restoration.

Škoda Superb | Infographic Model history

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1936: The sleek, metallic silver Superb 913

The Superb 913 was an updated version of this model series. It had a new front design reminiscent of the Popular model and separate compartments for the driver and rear passengers, with two reserve seats and metallic silver body paint. The car was powered by a straight‑six flathead engine with a displacement of 2,914 cm³. Its first owner was Otakar Podhajský, a manufacturing engineer. After the Second World War the car served as a taxi. In the 1970s this Superb was purchased by the Škoda Museum and restored. In total, 350 vehicles of this particular series were built.

1939: The black Superb, powered by a cutting‑edge 3000 OHV engine

The 924 series represented a major modernisation. The body had a more rounded shape, and the centrally hinged two‑piece bonnet was replaced with a single‑piece lid that folded upwards towards the rear. In 1938, Škoda also switched to a more efficient straight‑six engine with a modern overhead valve arrangement. The displacement was increased to 3,137 cm³. The 924 was characterised by having its spare wheels located behind the front wings. The displayed Superb also features separate compartments for the driver and rear passengers, with two reserve seats that can turn the car into a seven‑seater. It was acquired from a private collector who had it restored. Since then, this Superb has been in faithful service, taking part in classic car rallies and other motoring events all over Europe, thanks to the care and attention of the Škoda Museum’s team of experts.


1948: The crowning glory, the metallic gold Superb OHV

The Superb OHV closed this historic chapter. It offered a modern design with recessed headlights and many chrome-plated details, underscoring the car’s prestigious appeal. Its design was similar to the contemporaneously produced Škoda 1101 Tudor. Only a limited number of bodies were produced, 11 in Mladá Boleslav and 44 in Kvasiny. The remaining chassis were bodied by Uhlík and Sodomka. This particular car, powered by a straight-six engine with a displacement of 3,173 cm³, belonged to the “Joint Hotel and Accommodation Management” of Karlovy Vary, the famous resort’s tourism bureau. After twenty years of service, the car was retired and purchased by the Škoda Museum, which carried out a painstaking restoration, completed in 2019.

Lavishly restored ŠKODA SUPERB OHV from 1948 is a new highlight at the ŠKODA Museum

2001: A legacy revived

Almost 70 years after the first landmark Superb model from 1934, Škoda relaunched the traditional model designation “Superb”. The first modern model generation was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2001, and the Superb has been the brand’s flagship ICE model ever since. By 2008, around 137,000 units had rolled off the production line. The Superb was the first Škoda model to offer such features as bi‑xenon headlights, automatic Tiptronic transmission and the Coming Home function, which kept the dipped headlights on for a short time after the doors closed. Earning widespread acclaim, the Superb was also named “Best Import Car” by German car magazine “Auto Bild”.

The flagship celebrates an anniversary: the first generation of the modern ŠKODA SUPERB turns 20

2008: Launch of the second modern generation

In 2008, Škoda presented the second generation of the modern Superb, the first to offer optional all‑wheel drive. In 2009, the Czech automaker expanded the series to include the Combi estate. By 2015, the second‑generation Superb had attracted 618,000 buyers. The second generation also won a host of international awards: British car magazine “Top Gear” named it “Luxury Car of the Year” in 2009; in 2012, it claimed the title of “Best Import Car” in its category in the “Best Cars” readers’ poll by German car magazine “auto motor und sport”.

15 years of ŠKODA SUPERB: Brand’s flagship celebrates production milestone

2015: Ushering in a hybrid era

Launched in February 2015, with the Combi estate following soon after, the third iteration of the modern Superb was built on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform. Once again equipped with state‑of‑the‑art technologies, it was the first Škoda model to feature a DCC adaptive chassis, tri‑zone climate control, and pioneering assistance systems like Traffic Jam Assist and Emergency Assist. Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist and Travel Assist added to the Superb’s capabilities. The third modern generation of the Škoda Superb has been the best‑selling generation of this series to date. International awards included the 2016 Red Dot Award for exceptional product design. In 2017, readers of German car magazine “AUTO Straßenverkehr” voted the Škoda Superb Combi best import car in the 25,000 to 30,000 euro category. The 2019 update saw the debut of Škoda’s first plug‑in hybrid model – the Superb iV. Across all generations, more than 1,600,000 Superb models have been built worldwide, with the fourth‑generation Superb poised to continue the series’ legacy of success.

The flagship celebrates an anniversary: the first generation of the modern ŠKODA SUPERB turns 20


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Vítězslav Kodym
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