Of course, the company’s long history has also had its effect on the number of products it has produced or offered to customers over the course of some 128 years. Of course, automobiles predominate among them, some of which have achieved an almost cult status.
But in the story of the Laurin & Klement and Škoda brands, we also find vehicles that, from today’s point of view, could be described as curious, or even bizarre. Five such are now commemorated by the Mladá Boleslav automobile company itself.
1900: “Quadricycle” with special seats
The oldest of them is a machine from 1900. It is the first prototype car that the Mladoboleslav people assembled from the components of their motorcycles and tricycles with gasoline single cylinders. The four-wheeler — the quadricycle — was introduced on July 1, 1900. Handlebars were used instead of the steering wheel, and a cylindrical gasoline tank can be seen under the motorcycle-type seat. The passenger seat located in the front and connected to the wide footrest was attached a little lower. The driver, the well-known Prague cyclist Bedřich Merfait, thus had a good view ahead through the passenger’s straw hat.
1904: L&K CCCC four-cylinder motorcycle
Four years later, at Laurin & Klement, they designed one of the world’s first four-cylinder motorcycles, the CCCC type introduced in March 1904. For a displacement of 735 cm3 four standard, transversely mounted single cylinders with separate crankshafts and gears connected to each other were “folded”. The CCCC model later saw a more mature successor with a single crankshaft, but it was more of a prestige affair. Serial production went elsewhere.
1912: Excelsior power plows
Did you know that Laurin & Klement also dabbled in agricultural technology? L&K Excelsior power plows first plowed the fields in 1912. The first model was the eighty-horsepower Excelsior P4, whose engine had four cylinders with a respectable bore of 160 mm. This monster, with six blades with a two-meter width, was able to break up dense soil on the test field at Kosmonos to a depth of 42 cm. The First World War (1914–1918) played a role in motor plows, which, in addition to soldiers and civilians, also killed millions of horses. The Excelsiors helped replace them. Later, these giants were replaced by lighter multi-purpose tractors.
1963: Škoda type 990 “Hajaja”
How would you like a station wagon with a rear engine? The production sedan Škoda 1000 / 1100 MB, the well-known “embečka”, was preceded by a number of prototypes. Among them was the station wagon type 990 from 1963, which was given the unconventional nickname “Hajaja”. That’s because its liter four-cylinder was stored almost horizontally under the floor of the luggage compartment, as if it were lying down. And since Hajaja was the hero of the popular Czech radio evening programs putting children to sleep, the name was decided. The technical solution was ingenious, but it failed to solve the problems with engine cooling. And so it remained with the prototype, which today “haha” in the collections of the Škoda Museum in Mladá Boleslav.
1996: Skoda Felicia Fun
The last curious Škoda transports us to the nineties of the last century. This is the Škoda Felicia Fun presented in 1996, which, in addition to its striking paintwork, also attracted attention with an interesting “party trick”: a hinged and sliding rear wall at the base of the two-seater cabin, enabling the capacity of the modified pick-up to be expanded by two additional seats. About four thousand pieces were produced, today Felicia Fun pays for a sought-after collector’s item.
And one last note. Did you know that you can try a quiz dedicated to non-traditional and lesser-known Škoda cars? You can find it here.