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First Skoda to wear the winged arrow logo

Ever wondered what the SKODA logo is all about, and when it first appeared?

Exactly eighty-five years ago, on this very day in Mlada Boleslav, Czechoslovakia, the luxurious SKODA Hispano Suiza rolled off the assembly line wearing the now familiar winged arrow logo.

That car, like all ninety-nine other SKODA Hispano Suiza vehicles, was custom-built to each customer’s specifications. The first car, as shown in these two photographs, was built for the President of Czechoslovakia at the time, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.

SKODA was manufacturing the luxury car under licence from Spanish company, Hispano-Suiza. Each car was a bespoke build and no two were the same.

Even though it weighed a hefty 2700 kilograms, top speed was a very swift 138km/h (86mph).

The price of luxury and performance was high in those days, but none higher than the Hispano-Suiza, which sold for a cool 6785 pounds. That was the entry-level price too. If you chose to include several options, the price skyrocketed to nearly 9000 pounds.

As the saying goes, ‘You get what you pay for’, even back in those pioneering days. The marketing blurb on the brochure said it all, “The Skoda Hispano Suiza is a luxury car designed by a brilliant engineer who put his stamp on the smallest details and manufactured with the utmost care and with finest materials.”

Not a bad effort for a car company that started out building bicycles, and didn’t release its first four-wheel model until 1905.

  • Bungameng

    This article says when, but not what is it about.

    The company started in 1859 in Plzeň (Pilsen – that is where the famous beer was first brewed, and where Pilsner Urquell is brewed up today) as manufacturing railway locomotives, steel bridges etc. In 1869 the main engineer bought the company from the original owner and soon renamed it after himself – Emil Škoda. It was transformed to stock company in 1899; by this time it became the largest industrial complex of Austria-Hungary, it was also the main supplier of the army’s heavy guns.

    Škoda family brought an Indian servant from US. This servant inspired the commercial director of the company to propose a new logo, which was a head of an Indian with headband, a circle clip and five quills. At the time the logo was colloquially called “The Indian”.

    Later, in 1923 a simpler logo of an arrow with five quills was adopted. This was in 1925 succeeded by the arrow with three quills, which is used until today.

    Meanwhile the company decided to start manufacturing the cars and obtained the licence for Hispano Suiza, as it is described in the article.

    Just a bit late similarly important event took place, as Škoda company (at the time one of the largest enterprises in whole Europe) took over Laurin&Klement (company in Mladá Boleslav), which was making cars since 1905. Innitially the models had both L&K and Škoda badge, while soon only the latter was used.

    The company was nationalized after the WW2. In 1948 Soviets forced communist coup and since then the Škoda’s car manufacture started to lack behind the rest of the world (but it was still better then the most of the other makes in Poland or Russia, which were merely making copies of Fiats or Renaults).

    After the Velvet Revolution, the government was looking for a strategic buyer. At the time the company was producing only Favorit, a small hatchback, which was designed by Bertone (Italy) and fine tuned by some UK companies, and hence quite up to the date. The car branch (Mladá Boleslav) was sold to VW, while other branches were separated (such as the trains and streetcars manufacturer in Plzeň).

    So, the arrow and quills are all about one Indian servent of Škoda family.

    • Baddass

      Thankyou for that more detailed history. I never knew Skoda had such an illustrious past!

    • Fiz

      Thanks for filling in what the article promised…

      Interesting stuff indeed. The history is fascinating and we can learn so much from it.


  • Mr3wbc

    Very interesting piece of history. Are there any books available on the history of this company ??

    • andronicus

      whats a book? you mean….internet?

  • DGS

    You will notice that the car is right hand drive.

    The Czecks used to drive on the left like us, until a second rate Charlie Chapman impersonator turned up and stuffed the country (and Skoda)up.

    • bangel

      Good one Dgs not many people know that , and sweden until 1968 last european state to change .

  • F1MotoGP

    This car had a 6.6 liter engine straight 6 cylinder, 74kW, top speed 140km/h, 3 speed gearbox, 4830 long 1765 wide and 3690 wheelbase.

  • John of Perth

    Also look up the other great Czech manufacturer – Tatra – the Czechs are good engineers.

    • F1MotoGP

      Yes Tatra is a good one too. Check out the Tatra T600 or T87. This car went all around Africa and South America in 1947. They did 61700 km. In Peru they wen to highest point 4860m. This car is a 3 liter V8, 4 speed gearbox, 4740mm long, 1670 wide and 1500 high, wheelbase 2850, 1370kg, top speed 150-160km/h. Another good Tatra was T813 truck.

      • Andrew

        And don’t forget Tatra 603, the very distinct, rear-engined luxury barge that used to carry Communist Party dignitaries around in the 60s… but also entered a couple of Monte Carlo rallies. Amazing car!