1978 advert for the New Skoda Super Estelle.

The origins of what became Škoda Auto go back to the early 1890s where, like many long-established car manufacturers, a company started out manufacturing bicycles. It was 1894, and 26-year old Václav Klement, who was a bookseller in Mladá Boleslav, in today’s Czech Republic, which was then part of Austria-Hungary, was unable to obtain spare parts to repair his German bicycle. Klement returned his bicycle to the manufacturers, Seidel and Naumann, with a letter, in Czech, asking them to carry out repairs, only to receive a reply, in German, stating: “If you would like an answer to your inquiry, you should try writing in a language we can understand”. A disgusted Klement, despite not having technical experience, decided to start a bicycle repair shop, which he and Václav Laurin opened in 1895 in Mladá Boleslav. Before going into business partnership with Klement, Laurin was established as a bicycle manufacturer in the nearby town of Turnov.

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