In 1858, Count Waldstein established a foundry and engineering works in the Czech city of Plzeň to manufacture equipment for sugar mills, breweries, mines and railways among other things. In 1869, a local engineer and entrepreneur, Emil Škoda, purchased the factory from Waldstein and the broadened the range of products to include armaments - at the start of the First World War the company was the largest arms manufacturer in Austria-Hungary. The war years saw the first attempts at building automobiles and road tractors. In 1917, a small automotive department was set up in the Škoda factory to produce purpose-built heavy vehicles. In 1925, Škoda purchased the Mladá Boleslav firm of Laurin & Klement and continued production of the latter's motor ploughs, as well as transferring its manufacture of automobiles to Mladá Boleslav. The first true Škoda tractors emerged from the Plzeň works in 1926, and these made use of existing four-cylinder petrol-paraffin automobile engines. A total of 750 of the first model, the HT-30, were produced and this was followed in 1929 by the two-cylinder HT-18, which went through three different incarnations before production ended in 1936. A four-cylinder HT-25 was also added to the line at the end of the decade. The 1930s saw tractor production move to Mladá Boleslav, where local design engineers improved on the existing HT-30 and HT-18 models, and developed a brand new HT-33 model based on the HT-25. The last of the petrol/paraffin models, the HT-40, was introduced in 1937 and the first Škoda diesel tractor, the HT-20 (with petrol start), appeared in 1941 - both of these models were also offered with gas producer units during the Second World War. Crawler tractors for military and industrial purposes were also manufactured and sold under the name Škoda WD-40 HP. The end of the Second World War saw the Mladá Boleslav plant concentrate on car manufacturing, and Škoda tractor production returned to Plzeň in 1946 with the introduction of the Škoda 30 diesel tractor. Production of this highly successful model continued until 1951, although a few tractors were assembled several years later from spare parts by another firm. The Škoda Works in Plzeň was nationalized after the war and remained in state ownership until 1989, when a complex period of trasformation began. In 1992 the firm was privatized and its manufacturing activity expanded with the purchase of the Tatra and LIAZ vehicle factories and the construction of additional plants. However, subsequent financial problems led to major restructuring and all associated companies are now under the auspices of Škoda Holding, a.s. The Mladá Boleslav automobile plant, subsequently known as Škoda Auto, became part of the Volkswagen group in 1991.
(Click on images below to enlarge)
(Click on images below to enlarge)
Škoda HT-30 at the Národní Zemědělské Muzeum, Čáslav, Czech Republic in 2007.
Škoda HT-30 at the Zemědělské Muzeum, Boskovice, Czech Republic in 2007.
Škoda HT-18 (early style) at the Národní Zemědělské Muzeum, Čáslav, Czech Republic in 2007.
Škoda HT-18 (early style) at the Zemědělské Muzeum, Boskovice, Czech Republic in 2007.
Škoda HT-18 (serial no. 25463) owned by David Parfitt, Devon, England and photographed in 2009.
Škoda HT-18 (later style) at the Národní Zemědělské Muzeum, Čáslav, Czech Republic in 2007.
Škoda HT-18 (later style) at the Zemědělské Muzeum, Boskovice, Czech Republic in 2007.
Škoda HT-18 (later style) at the Národní Zemědělské Muzeum, Prague, Czech Republic in 2007.
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