Liberecké automobilové závody was a company that produced Škoda trucks. First it was the 706 R, later its successors the 706 RT and 706 MT. When their replacement began to be produced in the seventies, it already bore the manufacturer’s name, i.e. LIAZ. However, the arrival of the then mentioned 100 series was not easy, as it was with the projects of the socialist era.
The development of the successor to the 706 series started already at the beginning of the sixties. At that time, it was even considered that the new truck would be created as part of fraternal aid between Czechoslovakia and Poland in order to reduce costs. LIAZ collaborated on this project with the Jelcz company, which at the time produced Škoda 706 RTO buses under the license name Jelcz 272.
However, such a project was unfeasible in the era of socialism, so after its collapse, other options were sought to reduce production costs. LIAZ therefore established cooperation with Prague-based Avia, the result of which was to be unified cabins used both by LIAZ for vehicles with a payload of over 7 tons, and by Avia for smaller trucks with a payload of up to three tons.
Several proposals were made then. LIAZ was assisted by the Fine Arts Fund, but in the end Avia’s proposal was chosen. He used the same doors for the sake of unification for trucks of different sizes, on the other hand, the nose or the roof were to differ only in width.
It didn’t work out with Avi either
In Prague, after all, the cabins were not only designed, but also built, thanks to the more advanced technologies of the Letňany enterprise. The prototypes then went to driving tests, during which the cabins were gradually upgraded. For example, the lower edge of the windows moved for a better view of the driver. The storage of the cabin to the chassis was also adjusted.
In addition, LIAZ also worked on a new design. In addition to a modern cabin, the new truck should also use a new generation of engines or a chassis with new axles. The result was to be a car with a longer service life and lower fuel consumption. Modern technology was also tested when, for example, prototypes with pneumatic suspension were created.
But the cooperation with Avia did not happen in the end. In short, the company from Letňa did not have the finances or enough knowledge to develop its own truck with a capacity of 1.5 tons and 3 tons. And so in the end it was better to reach for the licensed production of the French Saviem. The result was the Avia A15 and A30 respectively.
This also affected LIAZ, which suddenly had nowhere to produce modern cabins. According to the original plans, these were to be produced by Avia, LIAZ did not have suitable capacities for them.
The LIAZ 100 is finally coming to market
The arrival of the new generation of the truck was thus delayed. However, LIAZ still used the developed technology as part of the extensive modernization of the Škoda 706 RT, the so-called Škoda 706 MT. The updated variant presented at the end of the sixties just received engines and new axles for the upcoming LIAZ 100 series.
The LIAZ 100 was finally mass-produced only in 1974, after the factory in Holýšov, after ending the production of bodies for the Škoda 706 RTO, installed modern pressing and welding lines for the production of a modern cabin for a new generation of trucks. However, the completion of the cabins was quite complicated, which proved the inability of socialist economic planning. The cabins were driven from Holýšov to Kopřivnice for painting and then to Mnichov Hradiště and Přerov for final assembly.
Production started only gradually, which is why the previous Škoda 706 MT continued to be produced, as well as the 706 RT, which were finally produced until the eighties. LIAZ was not able to satisfy the demand for a new car, so it continued to produce the predecessor.
There were several derivatives. At first there were mainly tractors 100.47 and flatbeds 100.05 for domestic and international transport, which were necessary due to the new safety standards of the EEC (European Economic Community). Later there was also a purpose-built chassis 100.08. The standard cabin was supplemented by a shorter one, and the offer was gradually expanded by a version with all-wheel drive. The specialty was the LIAZ 100 – a vehicle adapted to the needs of fire brigades or transport companies with a cabin from Karosa.
At first, the drive was provided by an atmospheric engine with a volume of 11.9 liters and an output of 154 kW. At the end of the 1980s, however, a turbocharged engine with an output of up to 236 kW, later up to 257 kW, enriched the offer. On the contrary, the intended aggregate with a volume of 9.5 liters did not happen in the end due to a lack of funds.
In 1984, a folding booth was finally available for easier access to the engine. Until then, it was only accessible through the cabin. After 1989, in response to the competition, the car also received such modern elements as the ABS system or electric control of mirrors and windows.
A lesser known fact is that the LIAZ 100 was also produced under license in Bulgaria. The cars were imported to the KTA Madara car factory in a disassembled state, with local production of some components gradually starting up. Subsequently, axles for the 706 RT and 706 MT were even produced in Bulgaria.
The more famous chapter in the history of the LIAZ 100 is its participation in the Dakar Rally. In 1985, the Liazka was even the first car of Czech (then Czechoslovakian) production to ever take part in this competition. Jiří Moskal and his crew then finished thirteenth among the trucks. The greatest success came in 1988, when Jiří Moskal finished second among the trucks – the first was Karel Loprais with Tatra, with a lead of only 9.28 minutes.
The LIAZ 100 was finally produced until the first half of the nineties. This was the more modern LIAZ 200 on the market for several years, which was a de facto significant facelift of the previous series. After all, this also applies to further modernization in the form of the LIAZ 300, which lasted until the very end of this manufacturer at the beginning of the new millennium.