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