In Austria-Hungary during December 1895, keen cyclists Vaclav Laurin (a mechanic) and Vaclav Klement (a bookseller) started designing and manufacturing bicycles. 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.
L&K logo used on company documents and as a label on Slavia bicycles (1895-1910).
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.
The logo in the early days of the firm, used exclusively on company documents.
The logo as used on L&K motorcycle fuel tanks.
Slavia motorcyle image credit
Italics remained on the radiators of L&K automobiles until 1929.
The logo as it appeared on the first L&K automobiles (around 1905–1925).
The Laurin & Klement TypG (GR4), photo via Cartype.
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.
The logo used on ŠKODA cars during the period of 1925-1934, after the merger.
The ŠKODA 645 limousine, photo via Oldiesfan67.
The logo with the winged arrow has remained in use with minor modifications from the mid-1930s.
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.
ŠKODA 1101 hood ornament (1949), photo via FritsKlijn.
ŠKODA 1101, photo via Clay.
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.
The logo used during the mid-1990s (1993–1994).
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.
ŠKODA Octavia vRS, photo via Vindis.
The current ŠKODA logo, in use from 2011.
Car related: Aston Martin logo evolution.