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The Škoda Superb is a large family car produced by the Czech car manufacturer Škoda Auto from 1934 to 1949.

Background

The Superb, which debuted in 1934, was Škoda's first car available with V8 engine and all-wheel drive.

Škoda introduced a new line of cars in 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 Vladimír Matouš and derived from the one introduced by Hans Ledwinka at Tatra. First used on the 420 Standard in 1933, it aimed at solving the problem of insufficient torsional stiffness of the ladder frame.

The new chassis design became the basis for the Popular, Rapid, Favorit, and Superb. While in 1933 Škoda had a 14% share of the Czechoslovak car market, behind Praga and Tatra, the new line made it a market leader by 1936, with a 39% share in 1938.

The Superb was introduced in 1934, at the time being Škoda's second highest type after the 650 (discontinued the same year) and costing about double the price of a Rapid, similar to its contemporary pricing policy. The Superb was a successor type to 860, a luxurious limousine with straight-eight engine, built 1929-1932.

Design

The central supporting tube was split up in front, making place for attachment of the engine and gearbox. The drive shaft inside of the tube was powering rear wheels. All wheels had relatively independent suspension with leaf springs (one in the front and two in the rear). Four drum brakes were using hydraulic system, while mechanical handbrake was effective only on rear wheels.

First and second generation (Type 640)

The first engine used in Superb was an in-line six cylinder flathead with 2,492 cc. It had a dry clutch and four speed gear-box with synchronization of the 3rd and 4th gear. The car was offered with bodywork with either 4 or 6 seats. The chassis weighted 1130 kg and whole car, depending on version, some 1680 kg. Two series of this type were made.

Third generation (Type 902)

A new generation of Superb was introduced in May 1936 as type 902.

When Škoda introduced Superb in 1934, one of its main Czechoslovak competitors, Tatra, started manufacturing its V8 type 77, the world's first serially produced aerodynamic car. Accordingly, 902 had more rounded bodywork and front face more similar to the smaller Popular and Rapid. The engine was enlarged to 2,703 cc and it was fitted to a new gearbox with aluminum case.

902 was available as four or six seater saloon car and as a two door cabriolet. Also available was a saloon car with longer and more aerodynamic carrossery made by company Sodomka.

Fourth generation (Type 913)

Another change came in October 1936, with the Superb type 913. The front of the car was redesigned and its flathead in-line six engine was enlarged to 2,914 cc.

Type 913 was available in three basic versions: a six or seven-seater limousine, five-seater saloon and five-seater two-door car. Other less common versions included luxury two-door cabriolet, ambulance cars, vans and a pick-up truck. Production ended in February 1939.

Fifth generation

Type 924

The first prototype of the type 924 was made already in 1937, however it entered production only later in 1939 (with a dozen 913 models using the 924 engine being made in 1938). The car had a new 3,140 cc OHV engine, extended wheelbase and shorter, more rounded bodywork. The 924 is characterized by spare-wheels behind the front mudguards instead of the floor of the rear trunk.

The main version was a six-seater limousine. Its middle row of seats could be folded, allowing more space for the passengers in the rear.

After the war, production of Superb continued in small numbers also in 1947-48, when sixty saloons and one hundred open-top cars were made, some of them in a luxurious version intended for parades. Officially, they were all delivered to the Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior.

Types 952 and 956

In 1941–43, Škoda, in the then Nazi-occupied Bohemia, started manufacturing also military version for Wehrmacht and its Nazi Allies based on the 924 type. The production started with 952 type rear-wheel drive version and culminated, briefly, with 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 made) and as a military ambulance (30 made).

Superb 4000 (Type 919)

In 1939 Škoda introduced Superb Type 4000. With OHV V8 engine having 3,990 cc, this model was extended in length to 5,700 mm (224.4 in), about the same as the 2010 Rolls Royce Ghost. Unlike the inline-six models, the V8 had three gears with second and third gears synchronized. Only twelve cars of this type were made.

Several historical Škoda Superb cars can be seen at the Škoda Auto Museum in Mladá Boleslav.