Automotive

Skoda restores 110-year-old sports car – and boy does it look gorgeous

Skoda restores 110-year-old sp...
This restored 1908 Laurin & Klement BSC is a 110-year-old piece of sports car history
This restored 1908 Laurin & Klement BSC is a 110-year-old piece of sports car history
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: fully restored and on the road
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: fully restored and on the road
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 12-horsepower sport model was the quickest thing L&K made at the time
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 12-horsepower sport model was the quickest thing L&K made at the time
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: still starts with a turn or two of the hand crank, according to Skoda
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: still starts with a turn or two of the hand crank, according to Skoda
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: the last surviving example of this early sports car
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: the last surviving example of this early sports car
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: on the road
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: on the road
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: oh look, it's a convertible!
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: oh look, it's a convertible!
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: in rain mode
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: in rain mode
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: only 12 were produced of this model
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: only 12 were produced of this model
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: wheel detail
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: wheel detail
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: L&K wheel nuts
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: L&K wheel nuts
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: brass fittings
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: brass fittings
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 12-horsepower twin cylinder motor
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 12-horsepower twin cylinder motor
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: body has been manufactured according to the original spec
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: body has been manufactured according to the original spec
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: serial #220 
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: serial #220 
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: leather twin seats
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: leather twin seats
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: headlights
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: headlights
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: spare tire on the right
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: spare tire on the right
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: fully restored, running and now in the Skoda museum
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: fully restored, running and now in the Skoda museum
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: in gorgeous condition
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: in gorgeous condition
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: apparently this car's fluids could be played like a trumpet
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: apparently this car's fluids could be played like a trumpet
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: we can hear the sound of that horn just looking at it
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: we can hear the sound of that horn just looking at it
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: visits to the Skoda museum cost around US$3
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: visits to the Skoda museum cost around US$3
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 110 years of sports car development have brought us a fair way!
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 110 years of sports car development have brought us a fair way!
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 12-horsepower vintage beauty
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 12-horsepower vintage beauty
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: steering wheel
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: steering wheel
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: in-dash clock
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: in-dash clock
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: on display in the building it was originally manufactured in, which is now the Skoda museum
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: on display in the building it was originally manufactured in, which is now the Skoda museum
This restored 1908 Laurin & Klement BSC is a 110-year-old piece of sports car history
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This restored 1908 Laurin & Klement BSC is a 110-year-old piece of sports car history
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: from the rear
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: from the rear
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 1,399cc twin cylinder motor
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1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 1,399cc twin cylinder motor

Czech automaker Škoda is a surprisingly old company: 122 years old, in fact. In its early days, it was called Laurin & Klement, and its sportiest model back in 1908 was the 12-horsepower BSC model. Only 12 were made, and over the past two years the last surviving one has been lovingly restored for display.

The restoration is a runner, too. The BSC's 1,399cc twin cylinder engine is said to fire up "after just a few turns of the hand crank," and many of the photos we've got show it out on the road. Indeed, when Škoda got hold of the car in 2016, researchers checked through its history to find it had always been kept in roadworthy condition.

When Václav Laurin and Václav Klement first started their company in 1895, in Mlada Boleslav in the Kingdom of Bohemia, they started out making bicycles. By 1899, they were making some of the world's first motorcycles, and in 1905 they got into cars, and production ramped up to the point where they were pumping out 500 cars a year by 1908, when this BSC was built.

1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: only 12 were produced of this model
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: only 12 were produced of this model

This was the quickest thing in the early L&K catalog. Where the regular BS series cars made just 10 hp, this thing was a raging 12-hp monster. At the time, it sold for 5,500 Austro-Hungarian Krone as a complete vehicle. Roughly adjusting for inflation using exchange rates around 1900 as a guide, that's somewhere around US$75,000 in today's money, a fair old whack at the time.

Among the many hands it passed through in its 110-year journey to the Škoda museum were those of several filmmakers, and the car appeared in several movies, including Alfred Radok's Dědeček automobil (Grandpa Car) in 1957.

1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 1,399cc twin cylinder motor
1908 Laurin & Klement BSC: 1,399cc twin cylinder motor

Due to a number of modifications that had been made over the years, Škoda decided to overhaul the motor, transmission and chassis using as many original parts as possible, and built a new body for it using historical plans and sources as a guide.

It's now on display in the Škoda museum in Mlada Boleslav, in the very same building it was produced in some 110 years ago. You can pop in and see it in the flesh for around US$3, along with a heap of other historical vehicles, motors and memorabilia.

Source: Škoda

3 comments
Rustin Lee Haase
Absolutely beautiful!! Thoughts of the the one-hit-wonder "Oh Yeah" by Yello come to mind. This is what a classic car is meant to be, every part a labor of love.
James Wilson
Re: "built a new body for it using historical plans and sources as a guide." All that's left to do is to roll out an electric version as a limited release to see how the market will respond.
guzmanchinky
What I really want to see is an article 100 years from now about how someone took an old GT3 and restored it. I want to see what we will be "driving" then that makes modern cars look as museum worthy as this masterpiece.