360° tour: inside the legend that triumphed in Monte Carlo

360° tour: inside the legend that triumphed in Monte Carlo

On 28 January 1977, ŠKODA 130 RS cars claimed the top two places in the Monte Carlo Rally up to 1,300 cm3 category. Relive this famous victory with us and take a look around the legendary rally car’s interior.

25. 1. 2022 Classic cars

In the early months of 1975, one of ŠKODA’s many racing legends was born in the Mladá Boleslav factory: the ŠKODA 130 RS coupé. By the end of the year it had received homologation from FIA, the international race authority, which was a prerequisite for participation in prestigious sporting events. And in its first racing season, the new ŠKODA model took the top three places in the overall standings of the Peace and Friendship Cup circuit races, a demanding series staged in the then socialist countries.

Take a 360° look around the interior of a Škoda 130 RS:

But that was just the beginning: in the following season a rally version of the ŠKODA 130 RS was launched. Its high point came in January 1977 and the traditional Monte Carlo Rally.

The ŠKODA works team prepared meticulously, with each of the crews driving around 500 kilometres a day in training on the course. Once the event had officially begun, one of the four ŠKODA 120 LS escort cars and one 130 RS always completed the stage just before it was closed, and the 130 RS driver then recommended the best tyres from the Czechoslovak brand Barum to the service crew.  

198 crews started the race on 22 January 1977, but at the finish line six days later, only 43 cars were classified in addition to the two ŠKODA 130 RS coupés. Václav Blahna and Lubislav Hlávka won their class and group 2, followed by Milan Zapadlo and Jiří Motal. The 130 RS coupé finished twelfth and fifteenth in the overall classification in competition with much larger and more powerful rally cars.

The ŠKODA team at the 1977 Monte Carlo Rally. From left: Lubislav Hlávka, Jiří Kotek and Jiří Motal; to the right of the car: drivers Milan Zapadlo, Svatopluk Kvaizar and Václav Blahna.

After this double success at the RMC in 1978, the Zapadlo/Motal crew managed to finish ninth overall at Rally Acropolis (and first in their class, of course), and in 1979 and 1981 the ŠKODA 130 RS even finished eighth overall at Europe’s toughest event. During its career, the racing coupé notched up lots of outstanding results in both domestic and international competition. Historically, the 130 RS coupé’s greatest achievement was its overall manufacturer’s victory in the 1981 European Touring Car Championship. The car’s successful era ended in 1983.


Birth of the 130 RS legend

First made in the spring of 1975, the ŠKODA 130 RS coupé was based on the production model ŠKODA 110 R (1970-1980). The “RS”, one of the most successful racing cars of the 1970s and 1980s in the category up to 1,300 cc, weighed just 720 kg. Selected body parts such as the roof, bonnet and outer door panels were pressed from aluminium alloy, while the bumpers and engine cover were made from fibreglass. The front axle was identical to the previous Š 200 RS racing type, while the rear suspension was newly designed. The car was endowed with a more robust protective frame than the standard 110 R.

Selected 130 RS body parts were pressed from aluminium alloy; the bumpers and engine cover were fibreglass.

The heart of the 130 RS was its OHV four-cylinder engine, that was similar to the production engine but modified for competition use and tested in Š 120 S Rallye cars. The 1.3 litre engine generated up to 130 hp (96 kW). Technical highlights included two twin Weber carburettors, an eight-passage cylinder head and dry sump lubrication that is common in sports cars or, conversely, off-road cars – due to the unwanted overflow of the oil in the traditional sump. The engine block was – in line with the mass-produced version – die-cast from aluminium alloy using a progressive Czech technology; the cylinder head was made from grey iron. 

MOTOR.JPG The aluminium four-cylinder engine delivered up to 140 hp (103 kW). Technical highlights included the twin Weber carburettors, an eight-passage cylinder head and dry sump lubrication.

It may seem paradoxical that the 130 RS series achieved its famous racing success with a “mere” four-speed gearbox, as socialist-bloc suppliers were unable to provide a homologation series of five-speed gearboxes at the time. Even so, the 130 RS circuit race versions reached speeds of up to 220 km/h.