Anyone who has visited Prague might well have been treated to a short tour of Kafka’s city on board a classic convertible ŠKODA, well wrapped up (at least in winter) in thick rugs. It’s a one-off experience!
This winter, it will not be a stroll outside but a journey through time at the Autoworld-Brussels museum to discover the history of the Czech make – one of the oldest automotive makes still active in the world – on the occasion of its 125th anniversary.
An exceptional exhibition because, among the historic cars on display, around a dozen emanate from the ŠKODA Auto Museum of Mlada Boleslav, from where they rarely come out.
First there was … the bicycle
Let us start at the beginning with … a bicycle, the L&K Slavia (1899). Indeed, it was as producers and repairers of bicycles that the company’s founders, Václav Laurin and Václav Klement, two passionate cyclists, laid the foundations of a company in 1895 that was to become internationally thriving.
It is therefore no wonder that we come across the make as main sponsor of the Tour de France.
The exhibition’s cars
Following on from bicycles Laurin and Klement quickly moved on to motorbikes and finally, in 1905, to producing their first car: the Voiturette A under their initials L&K.
The latter, as also the mythical Superb (1939), Felicia Cabriolet (1961), Favorit LX (1995), Octavia, and may more, will be present at Autoworld.
Sports cars, racing machines and rally cars are vital players in the history of ŠKODA: the RS 130 Circuit (1978), the Octavia WRC, the Fabia R5 (2020), amongst others, testifies that the company, as from the beginning, produced many racing legends as also unforgettable vehicles, racking up outstanding victories.
A mini car show for ŠKODA at Autoworld
Above and beyond the historical aspect, ŠKODA will take advantage of this exhibition to create a mini-car show and exhibit some ten vehicles of their current range as also its brand new 100% electric SUV in premiere for Belgium; the ENYAQ.
In total the “ŠKODA 125 YEARS - From past to future” exhibition organised with the support of the ŠKODA Museum of Mlada Boleslav, will display some forty models, numerous visuals, archives, videos and, it goes without saying, showcases with scale models … all in a beautiful setting and a festive end-of-year atmosphere.
Some background history
Initially dedicated to the production of bicycles under the ”Slavia” brand, the company offered numerous 2 and 3 wheel models, as also the first “motorcycle” in 1899.
In 1905, the first voiturette, christened with the initials of the two founders, is launched. It is immediately recognised and appreciated for its value for money. The L&K quickly expanded its range of models offering up high-performance sports and utility vehicles. In 1925, after the L&K factory of Laurin & Klement had been partly destroyed, the company merged with the mechanical engineering group of Pilzen, ŠKODA, whose name it adopted.
After the Second World War ŠKODA built some excellent private lightweight and sports vehicles, winning various competitions such as a class win in the Monte-Carlo Rally in 1936. However, its abounding history was hardly known here, because up until the ‘70s, ŠKODA had difficulty in selling cars in Western Europe.
A first turning point came about in 1987 with the production of the Favorit, then after the fall of the iron curtain in 1989. But above all it is the partnership with Volkswagen, in 1991, the launch of the ŠKODA Felicia three years later and the ŠKODA Octavia (first model to have been created from scratch after the fall of the iron curtain) that propelled the make to a world level. To this day more than 5 million Octavia have already been produced and it is not over yet.
ŠKODA has also closely followed current trends and embarked on electrification. Their most recent model, the ENYAQ, was released in 2020 and will be presented in exclusivity at Autoworld.