Praga is a car company you probably haven’t heard of. It flies extremely far under the radar, yet is has some major automotive feats that should probably be talked about. Praga makes racing cars as well as supercars that are outstanding in performance, yet if you saw one on the road you would be confused as to what it was. So here is a short version of the long history of the Czech Auto Maker known as Praga.
Praga was founded in 1907. Let just that phrase alone settle. It has been in (and out) of business for over 110 years! The name “Praga” is simply Latin for the current capital of the Czech Republic, Prague. Initially, Praga built engines and other vehicle components for military vehicles like planes and tanks. Then in 1929 Praga merged with ČKD (a large engineering company) which would birth the start of Praga manufacturing cars for civilians. Later in 1929 the BD Motorcycle was branded as “Praga”. This BD motorcycle has only one cylinder and was rated at a 500cc, so it wasn’t anything major for the time. 3 years later in 1932, Praga started manufacturing a second motorcycle, the BC. This motorcycle was even smaller, as it was rated at just 350cc. However in 1933, Praga ended production of both of its tiny motorcycles. Unfortunately in 1945, the factory was mostly destroyed due to air raids during World War 2. But after World War 2, business resumed and Praga started to make passenger cars, buses, and trucks and it was nationalized. In the 1950’s, Praga resumed its military manufacturing as it created the “M53/59 Praga”. It was a “self-propelled” anti-aircraft gun, which is basically a large gun welded to a large vehicle. Fast forward to 2006, and Praga was bought out by the British International Truck Alliance, and this is the end of when Praga made boring cars. In 2011, something brilliant happened…
Praga decided to unveil the Praga R4S at the 2011 Dutch Supercar Challenge that was being held in Belgium. The R4S was an 8-cylinder race car that pumped out 520 horsepower. This was the start of Praga being a cool automaker. The R4S looked simply electrifying with its dramatic rear spoiler and ridiculous side scoops. It captured the attention of a few, but enough people for Praga to start to make a new name for themselves. Then Praga decided to make the R1, which is the focus of today’s article. The first R1 was made in 2012, and production of the car started in 2013. It looks even cooler and more sporty than its predecessor the R4S, but features less power. See, the R1 features an inline-4 engine manufactured by Renault that puts out 390 horsepower. The R1 was raced in 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019. But there is still one more car made by Praga that deserves a nod. That would be the Praga R1R. The R1R is very similar to its predecessor, with the same engine and power figures. The R1R is street legal and has a rear wheel drive layout. There will only be 68 of these made, which comes from the 68 year break Praga took from making road-legal cars. It weighs only 1,477 lbs which is insanely light.
Bottom Line: The Praga R series of cars is insane, but it isn’t all the Praga made. We have to remember how they started in order to fully understand the magnitude of what they are accomplishing today.