Liberecké automobilové závody, abbreviated as LIAZ, used to be a truck manufacturer, founded as part of an effort to industrialize northern Bohemia. At first they produced Škoda brand trucks, but later the manufactured products bore the name of the manufacturer itself, i.e. LIAZ. One of them was the LIAZ 200 from the first half of the nineties.

The LIAZ 200 was launched in 1991. It was originally intended as a replacement for the existing 100 series, but eventually both derivatives were produced side by side. The previous hundred continued to aim mainly at less demanding markets.

Same on the outside, different on the inside

This was a consequence of the rapid development of the turn of the eighties and the nineties, when LIAZ tried to respond to the new times, or declining sales. The traditional clientele suddenly preferred more modern trucks from Western European brands, which LIAZ with its production portfolio dating back to the first half of the 1970s was simply not enough.

Photo: LIAZ

The “two hundred” was based on the popular LIAZ 100 model.

De facto, it was an extensive modernization of the existing LIAZ 100 series. After all, in terms of design, you would practically not recognize the 200 from the 100. The cabin has been preserved for the most part, i.e. the higher front window of the dumper cabin or other moldings on the side parts of the cabin can only be recognized by connoisseurs. However, these stylistic changes were gradually adopted by the existing LIAZ 100.

The main changes were technical. The engine was newly moved more forward and mainly was stored upright, which required the engine tunnel to be raised and the cabin floor to sit higher. This can be seen from the outside thanks to the new covers above the bumper. The radiator and gearbox also had to be changed. Although the tipper used the already well-known ten-speed gearbox, the other versions received the updated Praga gearbox.

Photo: LIAZ

LIAZ 200 from the early nineties.

LIAZ also promised better noise reduction of the power unit. In addition to the modified LIAZ engine with a new head for higher reliability, Volvo and Detroit Diesel turbocharged diesel six-cylinders were also available.

As is customary with trucks, there were a number of versions available. The primary product was a tipper, but it was also possible to purchase a flatbed or semi-trailer tractor. Both four-wheel and six-wheel cars were available, as well as right-hand drive versions.

Photo: LIAZ

František Vojtíšek or Stanislav Matějovský and Martin Koloc, the later founder of the successful Buggyra team, raced with climbing on the circuits.

Short life

However, the LIAZ 200 only lasted a few years in production. The further innovated LIAZ 300 entered the market, gradually completely replacing the existing 100 and 200 series. Trístovka combined proven components with new ones. The aim was mainly to replace defective parts.

Photo: LIAZ

The LIAZ 300 represented another modernization of the proven series.

Specifically, slightly modified cabins bet on a more modern interior with new control elements for better ergonomics. In addition, there was the possibility of air suspension of the cabin. The chassis frame was also preserved.

The range of engines included LIAZ straight six-cylinders with a displacement of 11.94 liters in several power stages, as well as twelve-liter MAN six-cylinders or the American 12.7-liter Detroit Diesel in-line six-cylinders. These were mainly aimed at a clientele requesting a more powerful drivetrain.

Photo: LIAZ

The “three-hundred” was also created in a number of variants.

Different versions were again available: semi-trailer tractor, flatbed and tipper. Again, there were four-wheel and six-wheel versions, on the other hand, the eight-wheel version remained only with the prototype. All-wheel drive was also available. The specialty then was the racing version for the European Tractor Cup as a replacement for the earlier racing two-hundred.

The inevitable end of LIAZ

In the end, the LIAZ 300 lasted until the very end of the Liberec Automobile Race. They have been solving constant problems since the beginning of the nineties. In the new era, LIAZ had no chance against Western European competition. Trucks from the West were more modern and their manufacturers provided a wide service network throughout Europe. Unfortunately, even the modern LIAZ 400 (Xena) did not break through.

Photo: Škoda

The LIAZ Xena was technically a great leap forward, but this model no longer stood a chance on the market compared to the more advanced Western competition.

Although the enterprise was privatized in the mid-nineties by Škoda from Pilsen, thanks to which the Škoda-LIAZ inscription began to appear on the cars, this did not help either. Subsequently, the Slovak Sipox took over the company, but it did not save LIAZ either.

The end of production came in 2003, the last car completed on September 5, 2003 became an accompanying car for Martin Macík on the Dakar Rally. Subsequent efforts to revive production failed.