Lesser-known models from SKODA AUTO’s 125-year history: The LW three-wheeler from Laurin & Klement

Lesser-known models from SKODA AUTO’s 125-year history: The LW three-wheeler from Laurin & Klement

01.04.2020: - New series: Review of oft-forgotten special models from the company’s history - Practical transport vehicle: water-cooled LW three-wheelers from Laurin & Klement (1905-1911) combined the strengths of automobiles and motorbikes

- New series: Review of oft-forgotten special models from the company’s history

- Practical transport vehicle: water-cooled LW three-wheelers from Laurin & Klement (1905-1911) combined the strengths of automobiles and motorbikes

In 1905, Laurin & Klement produced not only the young company's first automobile, the Voiturette A, in Mladá Boleslav but also the more compact LW three-wheeler: Driven by a 3.7 kW (5 hp) water-cooled single-cylinder engine, the practical, 160-kilogram light transport vehicle reached speeds of up to 40 km/h. The driver sat on a motorbike saddle above the rear axle, looking forward over the heads of the passengers or the roof of the cargo area, which could hold up to 200 kilograms.

As one of the oldest automotive brands in the world that is still active today, ŠKODA can look back on 125 years of history this year. With the mechanic Václav Laurin and the bookseller Václav Klement, two young entrepreneurs set up their own bicycle repair shop in Mladá Boleslav in 1895.

Just one year after releasing their own bicycles under the name SLAVIA, they launched the first self-designed motorcycles on the market in 1899. They were driven by single-cylinder engines, also manufactured by Laurin & Klement, which soon opened the door to a wide range of products. In 1903, the V-two-cylinder type CC became one of the first mass-produced engines in the world. As early as 1904, licensed production began in Germany under the brand name Germania.

In the same year, the young Czech company introduced the CCCC, its first in-line four-cylinder engine, and expanded its two-wheeler range to include models with water-cooled engines, such as the single-cylinder ‘LW’ model. This was based on the most popular ‘L’ model and, like the other water-cooled machines, had the letter ‘W’ for ‘Water’ in its type designation. With a displacement of 600cc, the LW reached a remarkable top speed of 70 km/h.

Still, only ten units were sold between 1903 and 1905: with its cylindrical radiator, whose ribs spanned the frame at the level of the steering head bearing, it was probably too complicated for the customers of the time. By comparison, 965 customers opted for the basic air-cooled model in the same period.

It was not until the three-wheelers based on the LW motorbike, which, unlike the two-wheelers, carried the engine in front of the chain-driven rear wheel, that the advantages of water cooling really came into their own: The seating position of the passengers or the loading box above the front axle restricted the three-wheelers’ supply of cooling air.

 Another hurdle on the way from the motorcycle to the three-wheeler was that the engine capacity of up to 0.8 litres also increased the resistance to starting the engine, which at that time was started by pushing it. A decompression lever simplified this complicated process: it kept the exhaust valve open and thus reduced the backpressure in the cylinder when the engine was moving.

When it was released, the engine built up the necessary compression again and started. The decompression lever could also be used to switch the engine off, and in an intermediate position, the lever allowed the engine speed to be reduced for a short time without adjusting the carburettor.

However, the decompression lever was no longer sufficient to move larger and heavier motorcycles with sidecars, trailers or a front-mounted car for passengers. So Václav Laurin's design team developed an idle hub and clutch and installed a two-speed gearbox. This allowed the engine to be started even when the vehicle was stationary.

This innovation made the practical and agile commercial vehicles from L&K very attractive for owners of small businesses and state postal services. There was a choice of motorcycles with cargo sidecars or tricycles, which were assembled from proven LW components.

Soon, postmen in Vienna were using the Czech models to transport their consignments, Budapest and Prague
followed shortly afterwards. A remarkable record from that time shows how much easier L&K’s commercial vehicles made the postmen's work: on 20 June 1906, delivery man Kundert managed to empty 37 Prague post boxes within 58 minutes – on foot, it would have taken him 2.5 hours for the same task.

Because of such successes, the L&K models were soon in demand in other international markets. In 1908 some Laurin & Klement three-wheelers of the ‘LW’ type, as well as motorcycles with trucks, went as far as Mexico. Their single-cylinder engines differed from the predecessor models of the same name with a displacement of 780cc and an output of 3.7 kW (5 hp).

A rigid tubular frame served as the chassis for the three-wheeled Laurin & Klement LW, the front axle with a track width of 1,150 millimetres was suspended from two semi-elliptical leaf springs. The wheelbase was 1,650 millimetres; the driven rear wheel was unsprung. The band brake only acted on the rear wheel; later all three wheels were braked.

The water cooler located in front of the engine consisted of two tightly ribbed, laterally placed elements and the cooling circuit worked according to the ‘thermosiphon’ principle: the lighter hot water flowed into the cooler from above. As the temperature dropped, it sank due to its higher density and was led back down to the engine – the warmer the engine, the better this effect worked.

The surface carburettor was also heavily reliant on the temperature due to its design. Since the fuel mixture was formed by free evaporation of the gasoline in a small container, it did not need an injector, but this worked much better in summer temperatures than in the cold.

The carburettor was also developed in-house by L&K, as was the ignition with an electromagnetic low-voltage inductor and contact breaker. The driver initially took care of the lubrication of the engine himself using a hand pump. An automatic system with adjustable output was used later; the oil was delivered to the right places via pipes.

The unladen weight of the LW three-wheeler was 160 kilograms; the maximum possible payload was 200 kilograms. This meant that two passengers could sit on a leather-covered double seat, which was also optimally protected from splash water and dust by a sheet metal underbody. In the freight variant, a box body was located in front of the radiator. Additional items of luggage could also be strapped to a tubular frame that served as a cover.


Laurin & Klement kept the three-wheeled LW in their range from 1905 to 1911. Today there are probably only three surviving copies and a separate engine. One of these vehicles is currently on loan from the National Technical Museum in Prague and can be seen at the ŠKODA Museum in Mladá Boleslav.

The upcoming parts of the series on lesser-known models from Laurin & Klement and ŠKODA are dedicated to the following:

- Laurin & Klement E ‘Černá Hora/Montenegro’ (1908-1909)
- ŠKODA Sagitta (1936-1938)
- ŠKODA type 998 ‘Agromobil’ (1962)
- ŠKODA type 990 ‘Hajaja’ (1963)
- ŠKODA BUGGY type 736 (1974-1976)
- ŠKODA FELICIA Fun (1996-2000)

Vítězslav Kodym- photos Skoda

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/lesser-known-models-skoda-auto-lw-three-wheeler-laurin-klement---205654.html

01.04.2020 / MaP

More News

H&H Classics timed Automobilia Auction online ends today
BIDDING ENDS FROM 1PM TODAY in our Timed Automobilia Auction OnlineOur Timed Automobilia Auction Online ENDS TODAY. With over 450 bidder registrations and 1400 bids already received, the auction is scheduled to close from 1pm this afternoon. Take a look below at some of the highlights. more >>
Kitzbühel Alpen Rally moved to autumn
New date: 30 September - 3 October 2020The Corona crisis does not stop at the Alpen Rally. Recent developments have prompted the organisers of this traditional event to move the date of the 33rd Kitzbühel Alpen Rally to autumn. The more >>
Alfa Romeo wins twice at the "Motor Klassik Awards"
Readers of the specialist German magazine have named the Alfa Romeo Spider as the most popular classic car in the "Convertibles" category. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT has won the inaugural award for the most coveted "people's sports car"Another double win fo more >>
H&H Classic Auctions news and calendar
VIEW THE AUCTION CALENDAR HERE Among the benefits of being twenty-seven years young and having a longer continuous trading history than any UK rival is that after another outstanding more >>
AvD-Oldtimer Grand-Prix Nürburgring at a glance
AVD OLDTIMER GRAND-PRIX 2020NürburgringThe following overview shows the attractions to be experienced both on and off the race track. Races -    Race 1: FIA Lurani Trop more >>
Programme for AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix finalised
Even though all of Europe is holding its breath at the moment: the preparations for the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix (7 to 9 August) are still completely on schedule. The programme for the weekend at the Nürburgring has been finalised with new highlights both more >>
125 years ago: First bus with combustion engine from Benz & Cie
    Benz & Cie. delivered the first bus with a combustion engine on 12 March 1895    Premiere in the scheduled regular service connecting Siegen, Netphen and Deuzph more >>
Zaniroli Classic Events - Covid-19: Modifications of schedule
THE 13ST TRANSMAROC POSTPONED FROM 11th to 17th NOVEMBERTHE 21st RICHARD MILLE PRINCESSES RALLY POSTPONED FROM 12th to 17th SEPTEMBERTHE 5st ALPS TROPHY IS CANCELLED! For obvious public health reasons, all sporting, cultu more >>
Saar-Lor-Lux Classique 2020 cancelled, new date for 2021
According to the latest guidelines of the Saarland state government, we are no longer able to offer an Int. Saar-Lor-Lux Classique 2020 according to your and our requirements. Due to the closure of the state border to France, for example, more >>
Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este Postponement to October 2020
In light of current events and growing measures to contain the coronavirus, not to mention our duty of care towards our guests and staff, it is with a heavy heart that the Organisation Team of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este has decided not to proceed with this year’s edition on the planned dates (22nd to 24th May, 2020). Instead, we plan to hold the event from Octo more >>
Tiger Tasmania Rally
A new automotive adventure ‘down under’ from Bespoke RalliesLiving up to its reputation for delivering innovative classic motoring experiences, Bespoke Rallies is running a 25-day 5,763km adventure in Tasmania and Victoria state, Australia, this more >>
Balkan Classic Rallye in a new form
Balkan Classic Rallye for historic cars and young timers in the end of June 2020: rally experience on dirt and gravel roads to fall in love with.   Balkan Classic Rallye will take place in a reborn form in 2020. The concept is innovative: Balkan Classic more >>
Ready for Rally Costa Brava, Spain oldest rally for classic cars
European Historic Rally ChampionshipRally Costa Brava 13-14 March 2020   The 68 Rally Costa Brava, Spain’s oldest and most important rally for classic cars, will, once again, be the host for the opening round of the 2020 F more >>
Trophée des Alpes Entries open now
To September 13th to 17th, 2020 Registration for the 5th edition Trophee des Alpes (Trophy is open.Four days of regularity or hiking from Vals-les-Bains (Ardèche) birth  placce of the Monte Carlo Rally! more >>
Historic F1 at GP de France 2020
You do not want to lose the chance to take part ?exhibit and/or ride on the legendary Paul Ricard circuit in France before the F1 Grand Prix 2020Reserved for more >>
Spa-Classic from 22-24 May 2020, entry form
Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, BelgiumSPA Classic entry form download here Difficult to believe that it’s already the tenth running of Spa-Classic! The drivers really more >>
Thornley Kelham begins restoration on rare Mussolini-owned Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS
•    Thornley Kelham has begun perhaps its most challenging restoration project yet; a full concours-level rebuild of a rare Mussolini-owned Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport (3rd Series) Chassis Number 6C0312898•    Period documents show the car was delivered on the 13th January 1930 to Supremo Eccellenza il Cav. Benito Mussolini, more >>
The London Classic Car Show - Expert line-up tell their ‘Car Stories’
•    Adrian Newey OBE shares his love story of the Lotus 49B, the car that ignited his passion for motorsport•    Ian Callum CBE presents the new Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by CALLUM, a retelling of his original Vanquish design •    Paul Spires showcases the Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Con more >>
Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2022 Launched in Paris 4th February
- General route revealed, with a sting in the tail!- Faithful to the Legacy, more exciting competition sections with increased navigational challenge- On event support strengthened- Entries open today, following more than 700 expressions of interest more >>
Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2022 Facts and Stats
What is it? The world’s biggest motoring challenge for Vintage and Classic cars. 2022 will be the 8th edition, the first was in 1907. P2P takes place every three years, but what does it take to stage such an event?Distance: 9000 miles/ 14,200 kms more >>
HERO ERA to implement comprehensive environmental policy
- World’s foremost historic rally company to team up with successful global forestry company to negate all event related emissions- Plans to build up an accurate database of historic car emissions- A commitment to plant trees more >>
MASTER SWITCH - Brochure historical events 2020, inscription
  MASTER SWITCH Creators of automotive memories for over 20 years- downloadDOWNLOAD BROCHURE Events 2020 here  with as example: more >>
Hattrick für Deopitos bei der Planai-Classic 2020
Winterwonderland und eine superknappe Entscheidung – Alexander und Florian Deopito gewinnen zum dritten Mal in Folge die Planai-Classic. Das Wetter meinte es gut mit der 24. Ausgabe der Planai-Classic. Rechtzeitig zum Driftspaß more >>
Rallye Neige & Glace Entry List 2020
  Catégorie HISTORIC 4 roues motrices1 THOREAU Daniel THOREAU Alexandre F BMW 325 ix 1986 72 GEORGES René VANDERVORST Robert B VW Golf 1979 73 FIGUIERE Bernard GODIN Isabelle F BMW 325 IX 19 more >>
Rallye Neige & Glace Programme 2020
Dimanche 26 Janvier 2020 : Vérifications administratives et techniquesEtape 1 de 160 km dont 72 km en 4 ZRPour sa 66e édition, le Rallye Neige et Glace prendra son envol du Musée de l’Aventure Peugeot dans son fief de Sochaux. Une journée de vérifications administratives et techniques, qui se termineront par more >>
66. Rallye Neige et Glace 26-29 janvier 2020
Rendez-vous dans le Doubs dans un mois !Dans 27 jours exactement, le 66è Rallye Neige et Glace prendra son départ depuis le Musée Aventure Peugeot à Sochaux et retrouvera ses habitudes et son département d more >>
Formula One history galore at AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix from 7th to 9th August 2020
-    Jacky Ickx guest of honour at new demo round for Ferrari F1 cars from the 70s to 90s-    Advance ticket sales underway – attractive early bird discounts-    Date for Continental Europe’s biggest classic racing festival in early August confirmed more >>
Hans Joachim Stuck im VW-Rallye Golf als Vorausauto bei der Planai-Classic!
Er ist längst eine Legende des Autorennsports und ein großer Freund der Ennstal-und Planai-Classic: Hans Joachim «Strietzel» Stuck. Ganz nebenbei ist er im Sommer und Winter der große Publikums-Liebling, der Alt und Jung magnetisiert. more >>
Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2020: Selecting Committee defines an additional class
- Prelude Tour to go ahead again.- Endurance racing cars from the 1960s to the 1980s contribute excitement with functional forms and a crescendo of sound - BMW Group Classic and Grand Hotel Villa d’Este issue more >>
Viel Formel-1-Historie beim AvD-Oldtimer Grand-Prix Nürburgring vom 7. bis 9. August 2020
-    Jacky Ickx Ehrengast bei neuem Demolauf für Ferrari-F1-Boliden der 70er bis 90er-    Ticketvorverkauf gestartet – attraktiver Rabatt für Frühbucher-    Termin für größtes Klassik-Rennfestival Kontinentaleuropas Anfang August bestätigt more >>
SPA Classic 2020 -facts and figures
In 2020, Spa-Classic like Le Mans Classic will celebrate its 10th anniversary and will take place on 22 - 24 May on the Spa- Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Today, this event is a must for all collec more >>
Bernard Degroote Ypres Historic Rally de retour sur la scène principale!
YPRES HISTORIC RALLY 2020 "Un podium, un parc d'assistance"Le retour à Ypres du Ypres Historic Rally s'est amorcé voici deux ans. En 2020, année où le QG du Club Superstage reviendra au centre more >>
Ypres Historic Regularity 2019 - victoire Ruben Maes et Michel Perin
FIA RegularityYpres, Belgium29-30 november - 1 december 2019La deuxième édition du Ypres Historic Regularity a été un nouveau succès. Côté sportif, la course est restée passionnante jusqu’ more >>
Ostbelgien Classic day 3
 Reuter-Vandevorst (Porsche 944 S2) premiers lauréats de l’Ostbelgien Classic !C’est ce dimanche, sur le coup de 16 heures, que la première édition de l’Ostbelgien Classic, nouvelle épreuve de more >>
Ostbelgien Classic 2019 Day 2
Les concurrents proposent, les Hautes-Fagnes disposent…La deuxième étape de l’Ostbelgien Classic 2019 était la plus longue du week-end, avec un parcours plongeant dès le petit matin au cœur de Hautes-Fag more >>
Mise à feu réussie pour l’Ostbelgien Classic 2019
Cette fois, c’est parti ! C’est à 15h45 que l’édition inaugurale de l’Ostbelgien Classic a pris son envol depuis la Klötzerbahn à Eupen. Et dès la mise à feu de l’événement organisé par Michael Bartholemy et son équipe, le caractère populaire et festif de cette épreuve de régul more >>
Die ADAC Oldtimer-Wandertouren 2020
Touren an der Nordsee und im Salzkammergut   Die deutsche Nordseeküste nahe der Hansestadt Bremen und das Salzkammergut um den herrlich gelegenen Wolfgangsee sind die Ziele der beliebten ADAC Oldtimer-Wandertouren im Jahr 2020. more >>
Ostbelgien Classic - 29-30/11 - 01/12 2019
Clap Première !Personnalité incontournable du monde de la vitesse pure moto, Michael Bartholemy est aussi un grand amateur de rallyes de régularité pour véhicules historiques. Ce qui l’a incité à met more >>
YPRES HISTORIC Regularity 2019
29-30 november - 1 december 2019FIA regularityYpres, BelgiumEst-ce son timing atypique qui nous rappelle les éditions des seventies, où le fait que les participants entament une première étape le vendredi soir, pour ne la terminer que le samedi après-midi ? Ou encore est-ce l'atmosphère unique au centre d&r more >>


2001-2021 automobilsport.com full copyright