Gear Stick – Decades of Transformation

Gear Stick – Decades of Transformation

Current automatic gearbox systems produced in Vrchlabí are some of the most complex car components. Have a look at the ŠKODA Museum’s vintage cars and learn how shifting has evolved.

20. 2. 2018 Škoda World Design
  • 1906

    Laurin & Klement


    (vehicle on display: 1906)

    In the first  vehicles, such as the 1906 L&K Voiturette A, the gear stick was on the driver´s right-hand side, along with the handbrake lever (which is further away from the steering wheel). The car’s three forward speeds and one reverse gear were locked into position with a latch bolt.

  • 1913

    Laurin & Klement


    (vehicle on display: 1913)

    Car bodies soon started becoming more enclosed spaces, but as they were fairly narrow there was not enough room for the gear stick and handbrake. The solution, as seen in this 1913 Laurin & Klement Sg, was to have them fitted on the outside.

  • 1929

    Laurin & Klement

    ŠKODA 110

    (vehicle on display: 1929)

    In the 1920s, with car interiors becoming more generously dimensioned, the gear stick was put inside. Czechoslovakia drove on the left at that time, i.e. the cars were right-hand drive, and the gear stick was in the middle, on the floor.

  • 1937


    (vehicle on display: 1937)

    Most 1930s cars – such as this 1937 ŠKODA POPULAR MONTE CARLO coupé – featured three-speed gearboxes. Upmarket cars, however, would typically be fitted with four-speed gearboxes. The first gear-shift diagrams started appearing on gear sticks at this time.

  • 1960


    (vehicle on display: 1960)

    Later on, the gear stick was moved from the floor to the steering column, as in the 1960 ŠKODA OCTAVIA, prompted by the designers´ efforts to increase passenger comfort – relocating the gear stick made it possible to replace the two separate front seats with a big, comfortable bench.

  • 1966

    ŠKODA 1000 MB

    (vehicle on display: 1966)

    It wasn’t long, however, before the gear stick made its back to the floor in ŠKODA vehicles, this time for good – pictured here is ŠKODA 1000 MB from 1966

  • 1989

    ŠKODA 125 L

    (vehicle on display: 1989)

    The ŠKODA 105/120/130 line was revolutionary in its gear shifting. The old round gear stick knob, made of hard plastic, was gradually replaced with a softer knob made of PUR foam, and the gear-shifting diagram was explained on a windscreen label. In 1985, the ŠKODA 130 became the first ŠKODA to feature a five-speed gearbox.

  • 1996


    (vehicle on display: 1996)

    The first ŠKODA to offer an automatic gearbox was the 1996 OCTAVIA. It had a four-speed transmission.

  • 2018



    Modern ŠKODAs give customers a choice of five- or six-speed manual gearboxes and six- or seven-speed automatic systems. Some of these gearboxes are produced by ŠKODA itself at the Mladá Boleslav and Vrchlabí plants. The DQ 200 gearboxes are considered to be the pinnacle of current technological knowledge. With 352 components, they feature two clutches and can shift gear in milliseconds.

Related Stories Based on tags: 1000 MB (type 990), 105, 110, 120, 130, 2018, Karoq, Klement, Laurin, Octavia (prototype 1964), Popular Monte Carlo