A Brief History of the Marque
In 1894 Klement was a bookseller in in Mladá Boleslav. He found he could not obtain parts for his German bicycle and returned it to the manufacturers Seidel and Naumann, accompanied by a letter, in Czech, asking them to carry out repairs. The reply, in German, stated: "If you would like an answer to your inquiry, you should try writing in a language we can understand". Perhaps a tad disgruntled, he started his own bicycle business.
Founded 1895 by Václav Laurin and Václav Klement in Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the original name of the firm was Slavia. The first motorcycles were produced under that name in 1899.
The pioneering factory produced many fascinating and innovative designs including single cylinder machines, V twins, inline twins and inline fours. Some models were made under licence in Germany under the Germania brand. After 1908 L&K ceased production of motorcycles to concentrate on automobile manufacture, and the company was sold to Skoda of Czechoslovakia in 1925.
The firm also produced sidecars, as mentioned in the book "Sidecars made in Bohemia".
In 1904 the design department at Mladá Boleslav developed a four-cylinder model, Type CCCC. Four individual cylinders were mounted on a common crankcase mounted relatively high in the distinctively shaped frame. The layout at first glance appears to be shaft-drive, but the rear wheel is driven by chain. The 5 h.p. motorcycle was produced in the years 1904 to 1909.
That same year L&K presented a V-Twin, Type CC-3, which became one of their favoured machines for sidecar combinations and were exported to many countries where they were used for postal delivery.
Other models introduced in 1904 were the CT 2.75, the CCD-4, the CCR-5 and the watercooled CCRW-5.
The size of the L&K works increased threefold in 1905, and bicycle production ceased in favour of motorcycles.
Their machines did extremely well on the racetrack. At Dourdan in France Vaclav Vondrich rode the factory machine to victory against the best the world had to offer, and as a result was proclaimed a Czech national hero. The story goes that famed Czech composer F. Kmoch created the piece Na Motoru (On a Motor Cycle) in his honour, and Vondrich's character features in a 1957 film on motor racing.
Sources: Graces Guide, et al.
The Type LW forecar was introduced in 1905 (Last Wassergekühlt = Load Watercooled), and in 1907 was fitted with a 780cc engine with a better cooling system.
1. One of the film's credits is to a man whose parents were both murdered by the Nazis and who fled to America after the Russian invasion during the Prague Spring. There he continued in the entertainment industry and his credits are prominent in Hair, Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. His name is Milos Forman.
L&K - Skoda: Part 1-The Upward Path 1895-1945 by Kozisek, Petr & Jan Kralik
Skoda Laurin & Klement by Ivan Margolius~Charles Meisl
See Bibliography, Laurin & Klement
Last night I had occasion to spend some more time in your site, and noted the stuff on Laurin and Klement is scant... You may have also missed the fabulous two part history of L&K Skoda the first volume of which contains a veritable mountain of stuff on L&K motorcycles, one of which has been offered to a close friend of mine which caused me to look for stuff thereon...
Martin Shelly (more from Martin here: Linx)
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