Nowadays, Zbrojovka Brno, s.r.o is a maker of small arms in Brno in the Czech Republic. In this respect it has parallels to the FN Herstal company in Belgium (founded as Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre). Both these companies have in the past, in addition to small arms, made light artillery, cars and motorcycles.
The Zbrojovka Brno company was founded in 1918 as a state-owned factory known as the State Armament and Engineering Works. It assembled German Gewehr 98 and Austrian Mannlicher M1895 rifles, but later began producing its own. In 1924-1925 a new factory was built, where cars, engines and other machines were produced in addition to rifles and machine guns. In the 1930s, the factory also produced Remington licensed typewriters and Skoda tractors.
During the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Zbrojovka Brno was renamed Waffenwerke Brunn and produced weapons for the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS. In 1944, the factory was severely damaged in the bombing of Brno. After liberation and rebuilding, it resumed production. In the second half of the 1940s, it produced engines, weapons and tractors. In November 1945, a prototype of the Zetor Z-25 tractor was produced – and Zetor tractors are made in a separate company to this day.
Zbrojovka built cars and light commercial vehicles with two-stroke engines. The first model was the Disk, a two-door light car with a four-cylinder, 598cc, 10 horsepower engine launched in 1924. After a succession of larger models, the Z 18 of 1926 and the 1929 Z 9, in 1933 Zbrojovka introduced the Z 4, again with a two-cylinder engine. Early versions displaced 905cc and produced 19 horsepower, but in 1934 the company introduced a 980cc version with 25 horsepower in standard tune or 35 horsepower in the sports coupé version.
In 1935, Zbrojovka widened its range with two new models, the Z 6 Hurvínek and Z 5 Express. The Z 6 had a two-cylinder 735cc engine and the Z 5 engine was modular with the Z 6: a four-cylinder version that displaced 1,470cc. Zbrojovka designed a rakish new body style for the Z 5 and Z 6 and updated the Z 4 body to a similar style. Our Snapshot, taken many years ago in the Prague Technical Museum, shows a 1936 Z 4 with a stylish drophead coupé body – so this must be the new body design. It almost certainly also has the sports 35 horsepower engine.
Zbrojovka ceased production of the Z4 and Z5 in 1936 and the Z6 in 1937.