“Drndička” – Perhaps The First Slovak Automobile

“Drndička” in Slovakian is used to describe the weird sounds a car is making when it is on bumpy roads. The first Slovakian car was nicknamed Majer’s “Drndička”.

When Bulgarian Czar, Ferdinand Coburg or Ferdinand I who had an estate in the Slovakian village of Svätý Anton returned from one of his journeys – apparently from Komarno on his Mercedes, it broke down near Hronský Beňadik and his chauffeur remained clueless. Lore says, that Michal Majer from the nearby Psiare village came to inspect the damaged car with an ox wagon. He was not only a skilled craftsman but also spoke fluent German and Hungarian.

Tsar Ferdinand Coburg

He offered to look at the damaged vehicle. The white-gloved driver of the Tzar smiled, “As if a farmer could just repair such a complicated engine!” However the Tzar loved Mr Majer’s zealousness, and allowed him to work on the Mercede. And Michal Majer repaired the car using only a knife, cut leather from the whip and gravel by the road, which served him for grinding metal parts. When the Tsar asked Majer what he wanted as a reward, he immediately responded: a steering wheel, four wheels, and the documentation of that car. Tsar Ferdinand was always able to keep his word, so Majer really got everything he wanted from Budapest.

Who was Michal Majer (1881-1956)? He was born into a farmer family in Psiare and set up a local locksmith workshop before the First World War, where about eighty apprentices were trained.

Archive of Terézia Rybárová

Majer set out to work on his car in the 1910s together with his apprentices. All the parts were made in-house, save for the engine, which was cast at the Kachelmann’s brewery and machine factory in Vyhne.

The car had no lights. The first wheels were made of wood, and so the ride on the uneven roads was quite bumpy – hence the nickname “Drndička”. Majer gradually improved the car: he replaced the wooden wheels, added lighting and adjusted the interior. Drndička was used until 1952. Unfortunately, the car ended up at a junkyard in Hronský Beňadik, some time between 1954 and 1958. JUDr. František Kollár, who played as a little boy on the car when it was no longer running and was covered with straw in the shed, mentioned that the colour was ocher, beige. But some reports also indicate a greenish colour.

Archive of Terézia Rybárová

Today we are not quite able to determine the date when the car was built, but it was probably after the First World War although some sources indicate 1913. The original engineering factory in Vyhne burned down and therefore it is impossible to find the date of casting the engine.

The car was around 2,5m long with a top speed of 50 km/h with a 3-speed transmission with shift lever on the right and water-cooled cooler and drum brakes on rear wheels.

On the building of the local inn in Psiare, a memorial plaque is placed in honour of “Drndička”, reminding us that the first Slovak car was built here. Inside the inn, there are also period photographs along the walls, as well as a small scale model of the car, which was made by Roman Holy from Nová Baňa.

Archive of Terézia Rybárová

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