Featured in this article is the 1939 Aero Model 50 Convertible. The car is a beauty with great styling and lines.The Aero cars were manufactured in Czechoslovakia from 1929 to 1947. The automobiles were produced in what today is the Czech Republic and were built in very limited numbers. The Aero Model 50's were built from 1936 through 1939. Production stopped in 1939 with the start of World War Two.
The Aero Company was founded in Prague in 1919. The company was in the business of building airplanes. In 1929 they entered into the auto building business. The aircraft business declined significantly when the Great Depression went to Europe and the automobile helped the company stay solvent. After World War Two Aero manufactured a Model 30 automobile until 1947. This endeavor was short lived as the automobile company was then nationalized and effectively disappeared. What did survive was Aero as an aircraft manufacturer. It still exists to this day.
The heyday for the company would have been in the late 1930's when they were building over 1,000 vehicles per year.
Sodomka Coach Builders and the Aero Model 50
Reportedly there were only twenty Aero car models built by coachbuilder Josef Sodomka. Three different models were built by them all looking somewhat similar.
The automobiles are obviously quite rare. The one featured in this article is on display at the Blackhawk Museum located at 3700 Blackhawk Plaza Cir, Danville, CA. Danville is a San Francisco Bay Area community. If you happen to be in this area about a 36 mile drive east of San Francisco you will be very pleased to have stopped by this absolutely spectacular auto museum.
Josef Sodomka founded The Sodomka Company in 1895 in Vysoke Myto in what's now called the Czech Republic. The company started in business with five employees and originally produced several types of coaches, both sleighs and horse drawn carriages. Josef Sodomka's company became the largest and best known coachbuilding company in Czechoslovakia.
Just as in the U.S. the second world war brought to a stop the production of private automobiles. What was being built were buses, bus trailers, ambulances and special purpose bodies.
In 1944 new designs for private cars were drawn up at the plant in Vysoke Myto.
A Czech Coach Builder and the Iron Curtain
The ending of the war meant many new challenges. When the war ended Sodomka wanted to continue with the design and manufacturing for automakers such as Tatra and therefore they unveiled on their own initiative a modernized version of these three vehicles...the Tatra 57B, a Skoda Superb Convertible, a Skoda 1101 en the Aero Minor II. Times were changing rapidly with the economy, the political situation and with automakers.
Several of these automobile models mentioned above were taken out of production after the war and the coachbuilders were having a tough time. Cars that were being produced were in such a low price range as to make it financially unsuitable for custom and special high end coach builders like Sodomka. You could say luxury was out and cheap bare bones manufacturing was in.
With a communist regime taking over by 1947, Josef Sodomka Jr. 'donated' the company to the State (Communist regime). Because of this "donation" (probably better described as a confiscation) the State allowed him to stay with the company as a director. This worked for a few years but by 1950 the Communist Party removed him entirely.
The Karosa national company came into being nationalized in 1948 by the new Czechoslovakian regime which was in effect a Communist run manufacturer of buses and commercial vehicles. Surprisingly, this new company did produce several top-class bodies. In 1953 a luxury body was built at Karosa on a Mercedes 770 base for Minister General Cepicka and in 1956 the prototype of the Skoda 1500 body was produced, a sports laminated body on a Skoda 440 chassis, and the prototype of the Skoda 976 private car.
Carrosserie Sodomka (the renamed Sodomka coachbuilder) ceased to exist in 1958, but the Karosa company still builds commercial vehicles and buses in the Czech Republic.
See the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...
Brno based automotive historian Jan Tulis has written a book on the Sodomka body works. It is well illustrated and gives an insight view in other body shops as well as the personal live of Josef Sodomka.
1939 Aero Model 50 Specifications
The 1939 Aero Model 50 came with an inline four cylinder two cycle engine capable of reaching 85 MPH. Some sources claim a top speed of 81 MPH. The engine delivered 50 horsepower. Some sources claim 45 horsepower.
Transmission was a three speed manual and the brakes were four wheel drum.
Suspension was four wheel independent.
The Aero Model 50 had a wheelbase of 119.0 inches. Overall length was 192.0 inches, width 76.8 inches and height of 51.6 inches. Curb weight was about 2,899 lbs.
The new car price for the 1939 Aero Model 50 Convertible was about $2,400.
(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)