At that time, most Czechs were fervently patriotic, so they called their first company Slavia. Their bicycles sold well, so Laurin and Klement decided to take the next step and add motors.
They started making motorbikes in 1899, changed the name of their company to the Laurin & Klement Co and chalked up several racing victories. While making nearly 4,000 motorbikes of various types, they started experimenting with a new phenomenon — the car — which began to gradually replace motorbikes from 1905 on.
When war began in 1914, the Laurin & Klement Co started manufacturing for the armed forces too. Because of the economic conditions in the region at the time, Laurin and Klement needed a strong industrial partner to strengthen and modernise their company. They were now not only producing a range of cars, but also trucks, buses, aeroplane engines and agricultural machinery, such as motorised ploughs. They merged with Pizen Skodovka Co in 1925 and became ŠKODA.
According to ŠKODA, around 1918-19 in the management office in Plzeň there was a picture portraying a Native American, and the picture was likely the inspiration for the feathered logo. The commercial director at the time, Tomáš Maglič, was thought to be behind the idea.
Two trademark variants were registered with the Office of Trademark and Design in Plzeň on December 15th, 1923. The first variant (below), used in 1924 and 1925, was a five-feathered winged arrow in a circle with the word ŠKODA.
The second variant (below) showed a three-feathered winged arrow in a circle, and it has not been significantly changed since.
In 1939 came World War 2. Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Germans and the period until 1945 was a disruptive one for ŠKODA. The civilian car production programme was very limited and the majority of manufacturing was to support the German war effort.
After the war, as part of large-scale nationalisation in Czechoslovakia, the company became a national enterprise and took over all passenger car production. This period saw the ŠKODA Tudor successfully exported as far as Australia and the introduction of the mould-breaking ŠKODA 1200 which was modernised several times before, as the 1202, finally ceasing production in 1973.
ŠKODA also manufactured the ŠKODA 440 which, in 1959, evolved into the first Octavia, named because it was the eighth model to be produced after the end of World War 2.
New market economy conditions came with the political changes of 1989 when the Berlin Wall was brought down. The government of the Czech Republic and the management of ŠKODA began to search for a strong foreign partner in an effort to secure the company’s long term international competitiveness.
In December 1990 they decided on Volkswagen and a joint venture began the following year. ŠKODA became the fourth brand in the Volkswagen group, alongside Volkswagen, Audi, and Seat. Since then, ŠKODA has gone from strength to strength.
You might like to see the Aston Martin logo evolution.