As their name indicates, the Aero company’s main business was the production and repair of aircraft from their factory in the Vysočany district of Prague. But when demand for aeroplanes was low, they made other products: propellers, motorcycle sidecars, and car bodies built under licence from 1925. A few examples of the Enka car were built for its designer Bretislav Novorny, but the first true Aero was built in 1929. It was the 10 HP, a simple unitary-construction cyclecar with a 49cc single-cylinder water-cooled two-stroke engine. The word simple is perhaps being kind: the rear axle had no differential, there were no front-wheel brakes, and a starter was extra (the standard system was a rope device worked from the dashboard). About 1500 were built.
By 1932 the Aero had developed: a 662cc twin with 4-wheel brakes was followed by the Aero 1000, with a 999cc twin and a 2-seater roadster body. Bohumil Turek was the best-known of several drivers achieving sporting success with these cars, gaining 3rd in class in the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally.
But the most successful Aero of the pre-war period was the car shown in our Snapshot: the Aero Type 30. Introduced in 1934, it was the work of designer Ing. Basek. It was a front-wheel drive car with all-independent suspension; the 999cc engine was still a water-cooled two-stroke but benefitted from light-alloy deflector-type pistons, stealing a march on its contemporary German competitor the DKW. With an output of 28bhp it had a top speed of 65mph.
Not much is known about any racing exploits by these cars, but in 1935 Bohumil Turek made the news again, this time driving a Type 30 more than 10,000 kilometres in six weeks in Russia.
A sister model was the Type 50 with a 4-cylinder engine and twice the capacity. It was faster, but suffered from a rougher engine and severe oversteer on full power. Together these two models sold around 1000 examples every year in the late 1930s.
The Aero Type 30 was briefly revived after World War II with a synchromesh gearbox and a redesigned radiator grille, but only 500 or so were sold in 1946 and 1947. New models were designed to replace the Types 30 and 50 but the Czechoslovakian car industry was nationalised, and they never went into production.
Although car production stopped in 1947, the original parent company Aero Vodochody still manufactures aircraft today.
Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk