Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

Skoda

Skoda


A chronological day-by-day history of Skoda.

Tuesday 14th June 1904

113 years ago

The Sociedad Hispano-Suiza Fabrica de Automoviles SA was organised in Spain with a capitalisation of 250,000 Pesetas. Undeniably one of the most unique names of any car manufacturer, the once famous marque had its name derived from two countries - Spain, where it entered production in 1904, and Switzerland where its designer Marc Birkigt was born. The company was founded in the early part of last century, and in the initial years of production there was nothing to make a Hispano-Suiza stand out from dozens of other cars being made at that time, particularly when production in Spain was on a very small scale. But King Alfonso XIII of Spain was keen to help the fledgling manufacturer achieve success, and several of the more luxurious types were to find their way into his garage. This in turn would inspire other young Spaniards to purchase, and race, a Hispano-Suiza. In 1910 the marque would notch up a win at the French Coupe de L’Auto race, and following the victory the company decided to name a sports touring version of the car after King Alfonso. The 'Alfonso' Hispano-Suiza would then evolve over the next two years; the car was a beautifully proportioned machine, usually fitted with a 3620cc engine good for 64bhp at 2300rpm. Because of its side-valve 'T-head' arrangement and very long stroke (80mm bore, 180mm stroke) configuration, it had tremendous low-speed torque. At first a three-speed transmission was standard, but this was later replaced by a four speed transmission, the latter transmission making the Alfonso good for around 75mph (120kmh). In 1911 the company decided to expand beyond Spain, and so opened a factory at Levallois-Perret, close to the lucrative markets of Paris, France. Following the outbreak of World War I, an aero-engine factory was established at Bois-Colombes, and after the war this became the home of the most exotic Hispano-Suiza cars. Meanwhile the Spanish factory continued to make cars, concentrating on more 'basic' versions and commercial vehicles. They also assembled some of the French Hispanos for wealthier Spanish customers. But it was at the French factory that the desirable Hispano Suiza’s were being built. The first of the entirely French-conceived types was the Marc Birkigt designed H6B of 1919. By this time Birkigt had spent much time in and around the French capital, and he had gained an insight into what wealthy Parisians expected in a motor car. The H6B was therefore intended as a fast, luxurious and expensive machine, good for a top speed of around 80mph despite even the heaviest saloon car coachwork. To achieve this, Birkigt developed an advanced 6597cc six-cylinder engine, which was effectively half of an intended military V12 aero-engine. The cylinder block was in aluminium, with steel liners and overhead cam. Peak power was 135bhp at 2600rpm. This substantial weight and performance of the car was kept firmly in check by the first successful use of four-wheel brakes with a mechanical servo. This was mechanically so elegant and effective that Rolls-Royce soon acquired a licence to use it on their own cars. Versions of the H6B (or 37.2hp model as it was sometimes known), performed well in motor sport; the short-wheelbase model was named 'Monza' after a victory at that circuit in 1922. Dubonnet and Bablot would soon have a victory in the “Boillot Cup” race at Boulogne, and then Garnier and Boyriven would take out the “Coupe de Boulogne”. Birkigt decided that the marque needed a true sports car version, and so in 1924 the naturally named “Boulogne” or H6C Sport was launched. Compared with the first H6B, the Boulogne had an increased cylinder bore (of 110mm in place of 100mm), but retained the same 140mm stroke, the capacity therefore becoming 7983cc. It had a higher compression ratio and, in the case of high-lift camshaft models, the engine was good for more than 200bhp. In 1924 Woolf Barnato (later to become a famous 'Bentley Boy') took a Boulogne to Brooklands where he would notch up an average speed of 92.2mph (148kmh) over a 300 mile journey. That effort would earn Barnato numerous international endurance records. The same year, another Boulogne would win a £5000 wager against Stutz by averaging 70mph (112.6kmh) for 24 hours. The top speeds of the standard model were about 110mph (177kmh), and by the standards of the day the handling, braking and road behavior were all superb. H6 types would continue to be built into the 1930s, alongside the magnificent French-built V12 models. These were large, fast luxury cars for the very rich, and although a few had open coachwork, most were not sporting cars, despite possessing all the usual virtues of this splendid marque. The H6 however was starting to show its age, and so in 1931 production of the model ended. Only 16 genuine H6C Boulognes were ever built, nine of them specifically for racing, but many “standard” H6B’s were fitted with the same type of 8 litre engine, and therefore could achieve nearly everything offered by the Boulognes, though the handling on the longer wheelbase versions was never as good. As the 1930s progressed, the French factory became increasingly involved in military rearmament, such that production of cars became a sideline. In 1938 it ceased completely, although it continued, in Spain, into the war years. In total, less than 3000 Hispano-Suizas were built in France, this figure including a few cheaper models made as a result of the takeover of Ballot in 1930. Surprisingly, a few of the more exotic types were made under license by Skoda of Czechoslovakia, and by an Argentinian firm until 1942. The Hispano-Suiza is now chiefly remembered as a luxury car for enthusiast owner-drivers, rather than for tycoons leaving the driving chore to their chauffeurs. By these exalted standards, the Alfonso and Boulogne models were truly exceptional. Like Bugattis, they combined a. remarkable blend of engineering excellence and styling harmony. Marc Birkigt himself finally retired from aero-engine design in 1950, and the French end of his firm then combined with Bugatti.

Hispano Suiza K6

Hispano Suiza K6

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Wednesday 13th August 1930

87 years ago

Václav Laurin (64), the Czech engineer, entrepreneur and industrialist who co-founded automobile manufacturer Laurin & Klement that later became today's Škoda Auto, died.

Václav Laurin

Václav Laurin

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Friday 1st January 1932

85 years ago

A merger of Praga, Skoda and Tatra became effective for a projected 20 years, but the Czech combine only lasted two months.

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Wednesday 10th August 1938

79 years ago

Czech automotive pioneer, co-founder of what is now Škoda Auto, Václav Klement (70), died. The story of founding the Laurin & Klement Company , which would become Škoda Auto started on the day when Klement bought a bicycle made by the German company Seidel & Naumann. Upon finding a problem with the bicycle Klement sent a letter in the Czech language to the company, requesting repair. The company replied that they would deal with the request only if the letter were written in a "comprehensible" language. Klement was so indignant that he decided together with Václav Laurin, to start repairing bicycles themselves. Later in 1895, propelled by Klement's modesty, excellent people skills and business acumen, together with Laurin's technical expertise, the two decided to found the Laurin & Klement Company, producing their own bicycles. These were known as Slavia bicycles. The company took off, and soon had 12 employees, later going up to 40. In 1899 they went on to produce motorcycles which were an immediate success not only at home but also abroad, even in sport competitions. In 1902 Laurin & Klement motorcycles were successful in the famous Paris - Vienna race. This race covered 1430 km and the only motorcycles that made it to the finish line without any breakdowns in 31 hours were the Laurin & Klement motorcycles. Soon these motorcycles became so successful that the company decided to stop bicycle production in order to devote itself fully to motorcycles. In 1903 the company had already about 200 employees producing around 2000 motorcycles annually. In 1905 the company started making cars and in 1907 it expanded, registered on the stock exchange, and stopped motorcycle production. In 1925 the Laurin & Klement Company joined the Pilsner Škoda Concern and the name of the factory was changed to Laurin & Klement - Škoda, later only Škoda which produced hugely successful automobiles and became one of the great brand names, recognized worldwide, in the history of the Czech Republic. Václav Laurin kept the position of technical director. In 1991 the Škoda Factory became a member of the Volkswagen Group.

Václav Klement

Václav Klement

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Thursday 28th March 1991

26 years ago

Volkswagenwerk AG agreed to purchase a 70% controlling interest in Skoda from the Czech government.

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Tuesday 16th April 1991

26 years ago

Volkwagen acquired 70% of the largest company in the Czech Republic, Skoda Auto a.s.

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Friday 27th June 1997

20 years ago

World Record for Most Persons in a Car Skoda Felicia was set: 28 high school students from Brno (Czech Republic).

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Thursday 16th September 1999

18 years ago

The Škoda Fabia made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A year later, the estate version was introduced at the Paris Motor Show, and the saloon version appeared at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2001. Part of the Fabia’s success was the fact that all of its mechanical parts were developed by or in conjunction with Volkswagen, but were offered in a package that was priced to undercut other models in the Volkswagen Group.

Škoda Fabia - 1999

Škoda Fabia - 1999

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Tuesday 11th September 2001

16 years ago

The Frankfurt Motor Show opened to international media, with a series of concept and production vehicle debuts kicking off in the early morning. First news of terrorist attacks in the US came in the early afternoon. Large display screens were switched over to news coverage, opening celebrations were cancelled, and the usual upbeat presentations were absent for the rest of the show. MG Rover Group unveiled its stunning new luxury high performance sports coupe - the MG X80. Styled by MG Rover's world renowned design director Peter Stevens, the £55,000 MG X80 had a high-technology super-formed aluminum body, mounted to a steel box section chassis. Skoda revealed its new model, the Superb. There was a large number of concept vehicles, including the Citroën C-Crosser, SEAT Tango, Renault Talisman, Jaguar R Coupe, Ford Fusion and Audi Avantissimo. Top production car debuts included the BMW 7 Series, Ford Fiesta, Citroën C3, Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo and Lamborghini Murcielago.

MG X80

MG X80

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Tuesday 8th July 2003

14 years ago

MG Rover Group announced a bold new extension to its small car range - the Streetwise. Based on the Rover 25, it had an increased ride height, chunkier bumpers and was aimed at a younger audience as an ‘urban on-roader'. The Rover Streetwise was an attempt by Rover to appeal to younger drivers. Rover had modernised the existing models in 1999 with a facelift for the 25, 45 and the Rover-designed 75 models but Rover was suffering falling sales and a tarnished brand after the sale of Rover to the Phoenix consortium in 2000 by BMW. Although new models were in the planning stages, the 25 and 45 models would be at least 10 years old before the new models were launched. Phoenix owned the rights to the MG brand, and had marketed the ZR, ZS & ZT with reasonable success, restyling the existing 25, 45 and 75 models. This included tweaked suspension, new wheels, altered dashboard inserts, different seats, and bodykits. With the MG brand proving popular, MG Rover Group turned their attention to the Rover brand. The Rover-badged cars had a rather staid image, and were commonly associated with elderly motorists. Thus, MG Rover attempted to appeal to a younger market. MG Rover decided to design a car for a niche market, and chose the ‘Urban on-roader’ look, similar to the Audi A6 Allroad, Škoda Octavia Scout, Volvo XC70 & Volkswagen Polo Fun/CrossPolo. The Streetwise ceased production in April 2005, when Rover ceased trading and went into administration.

Rover Streetwise

Rover Streetwise

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Tuesday 9th September 2003

14 years ago

The Frankfurt Motor Show, opened it’s doors, with the simultaneous launch of the 5th generation of VW Golf and Opel Astra. Ford unveiled the first production models based on next year’s new Focus platform – the Mazda 3 and new Volvo S40 sedan. The 2003 Show was also a significant event for BMW, with the debut of the new 5-Series saloon and 6-Series coupe, while the X5 was updated for 2004 and joined by the smaller, all-new X3. Mercedes showed the production version of the SLR McLaren; Jaguar the X-Type Estate and Maserati returned to the luxury saloon fold with the premiere of the new Quattroporte. Leading the concept car debuts from Europe were the Citroen C-Airlounge, Renault Be-Bop, Peugeot 407 Elixir, SEAT Altea, and Saab 9-3 Sporthatch, together with surprises from Lancia with the Fulvia Coupe concept and Skoda with the Roomster. Japanese makers were also strongly featured with concepts such as the Toyota CS&S, Nissan Dunehawk, Mazda Kusabi, Mitsubishi ‘i’, and Suzuki S2.

VW Golf (5th generation)

VW Golf (5th generation)

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Thursday 8th April 2004

13 years ago

The 1 millionth Skoda Fabia was driven off the production line at the Skoda Auto plant in the Czech Republic and was handed over to a customer from the UK.

Skoda Fabia III

Skoda Fabia III

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Friday 24th September 2004

13 years ago

The Paris Mondial de l’Automobile (Paris Motor Show) opened its doors to the press and featured a wealth of new concept and production cars. There were a number of major releases from Ford, BMW and Mercedes and, naturally, the French makers Peugeot, Citroën and Renault featured strongly as well. World debuts included the Alfa 147, Aston Martin DBR9, Audi A4, BMW 1 Series, BMW M5, Citroën C4, Ferrari F430, Ford Focus, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Sportage, Mazda 5, Mercedes A-Class, Mitsubishi Colt CZ3, Opel Astra GTC, Peugeot 1007, Porsche Boxster, Renault Mégane Trophy, Škoda Octavia Estate, Suzuki Swift and Toyota Prius GT.

BMW 1-Series

BMW 1-Series

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