1905 Laurin & Klement Voiturette A steering wheel
With a wooden rim combined with five metal spokes, the steering wheel of the 1905 Laurin & Klement Voiturette A was quite fashionable for the early 20th century. If you are wondering about that lever in the middle, it was used to access the acceleration function and make the most out of the mighty seven horsepower delivered by the water-cooled two-cylinder 1.0-liter engine. With the accelerator function incorporated into the steering wheel, it means the car had only two pedals: one for clutch and the other for brake.
1925 Skoda 110 steering wheel
Fast forward 20 years, the steering wheel of the Laurin & Klement 110 / Skoda 110 still had the lever in the center, even though the car came with a floor-mounted accelerator pedal. This engineering solution was adopted because back in the day it was tricky for drivers to keep their foot on the accelerator pedal while driving on bumpy roads. Why? Due to the rudimentary suspension systems, prompting Skoda to keep the steering wheel-mounted lever to control acceleration whenever tackling rough terrain. Flat out, the car managed to hit 50 mph (80 kph).
1932 Skoda 860 steering wheel
Billed as being a luxury car, the Skoda 860 had a more intricate configuration with a pair of levers located under the steering wheel to control the lights and the turn signals. However, this technical solution was short-lived as the engineers decided to move the controls onto the dashboard on future models. The majestic 860 was an impressive piece of machinery, featuring an eight-cylinder 3.8-liter engine producing 60 horsepower delivered to the rear wheels through a three-speed gearbox.
1940 Skoda Superb 4000 steering wheel
The sumptuous 5.7-meter Superb 4000 (a.k.a. Type 919) eschewed the two levers to adopt a cleaner look for its fancy steering wheel that had an upscale rim. The car had a large 3.9-liter V8 and will go down in history as being the first V8-powered Skoda production model ever. It’s a rare breed considering only a dozen were ever made and who knows how many of them have managed to survive.
1952 Skoda 1201 Sedan steering wheel
Available in multiple body styles including a light delivery van and even a pickup truck, the Skoda 1201 came with a simple two-spoke steering wheel with a built-in horn in the center. It got rid of the dashboard-mounted button installed on the cars before it as the company wanted to make the horn more accessible to the driver as a response to an increase in traffic volumes.
1959 Skoda 450 steering wheel
The horn function was redesigned from the ground up for the Skoda 450, which adopted a semi-circle to make it easier for the driver. The Felicia’s predecessor in the 450 guise had a 2+2 layout with a folding roof configuration and was made in 1,010 examples, some of which were delivered in the United States. It employed a four-cylinder engine sending 50 horsepower (from a four-cylinder 1.1-liter engine) to the rear wheels in the flagship version fitted with a four-speed gearbox controllable by using a lever built into the steering column.
1966 Skoda 1000 MB steering wheel
Back in fashion, the levers were dusted off in the 1960s for the 1000 MB, which had the horn function built into one of the levers by pressing it towards the steering wheel. As for the car, it served as a direct successor for the original Octavia and got its name after the engine displacement (988cc rounded off to 1000) while the MB initials stood for the company’s headquarters in Mladá Boleslav.
1984 Skoda 120 L steering wheel
The composition of the steering wheel changed significantly with the Skoda 120 L as it was made out of polyurethane foam, a softer material providing a more upscale feel. Once again, the configuration of the levers was tweaked, with Skoda deciding to put the lights, blinkers, and the horn on the left side whereas the right lever provided access to the windscreen wipers and the washer.
1989 Skoda Favorit steering wheel
The last car to be fully engineered by Skoda before the VW takeover, the Favorit brought a mild evolution compared to the 120 L with a somewhat more elegant and modern design. Later in its life cycle, the Favorit was offered with an optional steering wheel wrapped around in leather. Initially a five-door hatch, the model spawned a more practical Forman wagon version as well as a two-door, two-seat pickup truck derivative.
1996 Skoda Felicia steering wheel
The airbag was first implemented in a steering wheel with the Felicia, which was Skoda’s last model to ride on an in-house developed platform. Derived from the Favorit, the Felicia took advantage of VW’s expertise and received a steering wheel-mounted airbag for added safety. In addition, it also saw the introduction of the first buttons, one on each side to honk the horn. It was ultimately replaced by the Fabia.
2017 Skoda Vision E concept steering wheel
With the Vision E, Skoda is previewing the company’s EV push set to include five pure electric cars by 2025. At the same time, it also provides a glimpse of the design approach with a sleeker exterior combined with a minimalist interior. In addition, the zero-emissions crossover is a taste of things to come in terms of autonomous driving, hence why the uncluttered two-spoke steering wheel carrying the Laurin & Klement logo can be raised to free up cabin room when the concept does all the driving.
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