1907-1947. Prague, Czech Republic.
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Praga brand was founded almost 100 years ago and managed to manufacture a vast number of automobiles, truck and bus vehicles, motorcycles, airplanes, military and agricultural machinery and vehicles during the time of its existence.

praga logo

Praga logotype.

Several models were introduced in every sphere of its production, some soon earning fame and popularity which helped to gain a good reputation in the eyes of the public. Praga’s history is remarkable especially in the first half of the 20th century, the period during which the company manufactured models in every mentioned area of production, thus acquiring a respectable spot in the general history of vehicle and aircraft production.

1907–1919: The Beginning.
Praga enters the field of automobile industry at the end of the first decade of the 20th century. The first serially manufactured model is Praga V Charon which is followed by models Alfa, Grand and Mignon; and precisely these three vehicles will become quickly the distinctive cars of the company. Their production is launched in the beginning of the second decade and Praga’s success is channelled mainly thought their production and popularity. The second decade is also marked by an extensive production of truck vehicles – and it is precisely this type of production which is continued by the company for almost 90 years. Praga trucks are demanded considerably during the WWI by the army because they are able to provide logistics and transport even in difficult war conditions. The war also postpones the production of previously mentioned automobile models which is reinstated in the early 20s.

1920–1929: Motorcycles and motorsport.
Naturally, the company’s scope of activity is not limited only to automobile production. Praga continues with production of truck and bus vehicles as well as agricultural technology. Moreover, the first official motorcycle Praga 500 BDS is put into serial production by Praga’s experienced construction engineer J. F. Koch. The bike proves to be most popular in an option with a sidecar; 500 BDS also participates successfully in several racing and expedition events.

This growing success of Praga in this decade was challenged by the Great depression at the turn of 1920s and 1930s. However, we shall see that even these difficult circumstances did not diminish the position of Praga in the years to come.

1930s: Multifarious thirties.
The beginning of the 1930s is marked by the Great Depression, which impacts on all the areas of industry in the Czechoslovak lands. At the same time, 1930s represent probably the most diverse period in the company’s production. Praga continues to manufacture the already existing models and develops new models Baby, Golden, Lady and Super Piccolo (an enhanced alternative of previous Praga Piccolo). First Praga motorcycle 500 BDS is followed by a new 300 BCS; with these two being the only bikes serially produced until the late 1990s when Praga Enduro is introduced to the market.

1940s: Second World War.
The Second World War brings subordination of the factories to the German occupation forces. Praga’s experienced engineers and employees are forced to labour in German factories while new manufacturers hope that their work in Praga will prevent the Nazis from sending them abroad. Praga’s factories are producing military vehicles and machinery – mainly consisting of light tank LT mk. 38 and transport vehicles. This production is affected by several acts of sabotage by patriotic employers.

1950s – 1980s: Trucks and utility vehicles.
Praga is strictly focused on the production of truck vehicles since the late 1940s. Two very popular models are manufactured: Praga V3S, an all-terrain truck and utility vehicle produced at first for military purposes, but soon becoming a frequent choice for civil purposes as well. The second model is S5T which is a road option of V3S. Owing to their reliability and variability, these two models are quite widespread and it is not hard to meet V3S on Czech roads even today – partly because this model has been in production for incredible time of almost forty years. After further rearrangements of the car industry in 1964, Praga’s factories are commissioned to produce transmission components for a majority of Czechoslovak truck vehicles. Therefore, Praga does not return to the sphere of construction and production itself until the 1990s.

1990s: Enduro bikes.
Praga manufactures a motocross and enduro motorcycle in the late 1990s. For this sole purpose, the company hires several experienced engineers of Jawa Strašnice. First prototypes are then introduced in 1997 and the production of ED 250 starts the following year. The bike was later available in a homologated option suitable for road traffic. Even though “Enduros” represent only a small chapter in the book of Praga’s history, they achieved success even outside of the Czech Republic. Let us mention at least two racing achievements: Phil Converse who came second in Motorcycle Cross Country Series in the USA with his Praga ED 250 in 1999 and Martin Lind who reached the 7th place in the world championship with his Praga ED 610 in 2000.

(source: Praga)

praga lion

Praga lion.

praga crest 1800w

Praga crest.

praga logo.gif

Praga shield.

praga emblem 1

Praga emblem.

praga wheel hub emblem

Praga wheel hub emblem.

praga wheel hub emblem 2

Praga wheel hub emblem.

praga mignon 1920

1920 Praga Minion. Praga’s first model of an entirely original construction was born in 1911 and bears the name Praga Mignon. Designed by Praga’s engineer Josef Havránek, the aim of this vehicle was to offer a versatile car for a wide spectre of customers. On account of this goal, Mignon balanced between the categories of mid-size and executive car.

Eighty-five vehicles were produced in three series from 1911 to 1914. In 1915, František Kec became the chief construction engineer and modified Mignon to fully fit into the executive car class. During the WWI, Mignons served both the needs of the army and public until the production was suspended in 1917. The production was later restored in 1920. Mignon’s chassis was firm and stable and therefore the vehicle was convenient for several modifications including ambulance car, bus or a pickup. The company produced nearly seven hundreds vehicles of this type in total. (source: Praga)

praga grand 1912

1912 Praga Grand. Praga Grand was introduced to the public in 1912 and quickly became the flagship of Praga company. Only a short time after the first series hit the road, three “Grands” participated successfully in a demanding Alpine race and thus gained respect and admiration in the eyes of the public right from the beginning of their production. Because of its sturdy and representative nature, these vehicles served as means of transport for generals and representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And because of their reliability, they were used on the fields of the First World War, mainly as a transport of war officers and ambulance cars. After the war, the first president of the First Czechoslovak republic T. G. Masaryk visited Praga factory in 1919 and was offered a Grand vehicle for his personal use. Masaryk grew fond of this model and later had in possession five Praga Grand vehicles in total. After the first series in 1912, the production of Grand continued with minor changes up until 1921. (source: Praga)

Praga   Official site.
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THE "1900's" BOOK.
Each decade seems to have its own stylistic language, and this issue showcases logos, ads, cars, companies and products (and their typographical sensibilities) from the early 1900s.

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