The Skoda works in Pilsen arose from a small engine factory of Ernst Graf Waldstein in 1859. From the beginning, Skoda made one’s mark in the armaments industry. The automotive manufacture began in 1923. This was continuously expanded after the purchase of the automobile company Laurin & Klement in the year 1925. Beside passenger cars, lorries were manufactured, too. From the beginning, Skoda supplied vehicles to the Czechoslovakian armed forces. Partially, these were taken over by the Wehrmacht, later. During occupation time, Kьbelwagen and lorries were manufactured under German direction, among other things.
After World War I the Laurin & Klement company began producing trucks, but in 1924, after running into problems and being affected by a fire on their premises, the company sought a new partner.
Meanwhile, "Akciova spolecnost, drive Skodovy zavody" (Limited Company, formerly the Skoda Works ), an arms manufacturer and multi-sector concern which had become one of the largest industrial enterprises in Europe and the largest in Czechoslovakia, started manufacturing cars in cooperation with Hispano-Suiza. Skoda sought to enlarge its non-arms manufacturing base and acquired Laurin & Klement in 1925. Most of the later production took place under Skoda's name.
An assembly line was used for production from 1930 onwards. In the same year a formal spin-off of the car manufacture into a new company, Akciova spolecnost pro automobilovy prumysl or abbreviated ASAP, took place. ASAP remained a wholly owned subsidiary of the Skoda Works and continued to sell cars under the Skoda marque. Apart from the factory in Mlada Boleslav it included also the firm's representation, sales offices and services, as well as a central workshop in Prague. At the time, the car factory in Mlada Boleslav covered an area of 215,000 m2 and employed 3,750 blue-collar and 500 white-collar workers.
After a decline caused by the economic depression, Skoda introduced a new line of cars in the 1930s which significantly differed from its previous products. A new design of chassis with backbone tube and all-around independent suspension was developed under the leadership of chief engineer Vladimir Matous and modelled on the one first introduced by Hans Ledwinka in Tatra. First used on model Skoda 420 Standard in 1933, it aimed at solving insufficient torsional stiffness of the ladder frame.
Skoda TYPES 952 AND 956
In 1941–43, Skoda produced a military version of the Type 924 model for the Wehrmacht and its Nazi Allies. The production took place in then-Nazi-occupied Bohemia and began with a rear-wheel drive version called the Type 952 and culminated, briefly, with the all-wheel drive Type 956.
There were three military versions available: Kfz 21, a luxury command cabriolet used by high officers in the field such as General Heinz Guderian and Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (100 made), Kfz 15, a personnel-carrier and a raid car (1,600 were produced) and a military ambulance, of which 30 were produced.