13th May 2019, 16:41
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| | The Skoda Popular car & Skoda's history in India
A Skoda Popular in Calcutta.
Skoda's PR team sent the image in, with the following note:
Mumbai, 13 May 2019: The 85th anniversary of four POPULAR vehicles’ long-distance journey from Prague to Calcutta commemorates ŠKODA’s impressive tradition in India. |
In 1925 the engineering and defence company ŠKODA joined forces with the automobile manufacturer Laurin & Klement from the Bohemian town of Mladá Boleslav. The Pilsen-based company was already active in India at the time, and so the high-quality commercial and passenger vehicles with the winged arrow quickly gained acceptance on the roads of the subcontinent. Long-distance trips, especially in the 1930s, were among the most successful types of advertising at that time.
Eighty-five years ago, on Saturday, 12 May 1934, a group of four ŠKODA POPULARs set out on a trip from the Prague Automobile Club to India. The semi-convertibles had one-litre four-cylinder engines with an output of 15 kW (20 hp). ŠKODA’s new entry-level model, weighing in at 700 kg, carried a total load of 800 kg, including passengers. Led by Zbislav Peters, a lawyer and Czechoslovak ice hockey player, the seven participants embarked on a journey to India via the Balkans, Turkey, today’s Syria and Iraq. One crew even made a detour via Afghanistan. After arriving in Calcutta the ŠKODA POPULARs went on to Mumbai, and from there by ship to Trieste. From the northern Italian port, the vehicles headed back to the Czech Republic. By the time they arrived in Prague on 10 September 1934, they had covered nearly 15,000 kilometres, often over rough terrain and in harsh climatic conditions. On this long-distance journey, the new generation of ŠKODA vehicles proved their outstanding quality and reliability just as impressively as their high technical standards – the cars featured central tube frames and independent all-round suspension.
In the summer of 1936, Czech globetrotters Břetislav Jan Procházka and Jindřich Kubias circumnavigated the world in 97 days in a slightly modified open-top ŠKODA RAPID with an output of 23 kW (31 hp) and powerful hydraulic brakes. The journey also took the vehicle through India. Because of the ship’s early departure to Japan, the Quetta-New Delhi-Mumbai stage resembled a car chase: the fast and reliable RAPID made it in just three days.
Not least thanks to the advertising effects of these expeditions, the number of ŠKODA vehicles exported to what was then British India totalled 90 units per year in the second half of the 1930s. In 1938, India ranked seventh among the Czech automobile manufacturer’s 39 export markets. In light of the global social and economic change after the Second World War, only 150 ŠKODA vehicles were exported to India between 1947 and 1955, followed by ad hoc deliveries from the 1950s to the 70s. The brand, however, had no permanent representation.
P.S. Wonder how the after-sales service was back then
Last edited by GTO : 13th May 2019 at 16:43.