In the ŠKODA Museum’s restoration workshop, rare pieces are returned to their original condition and charm.
Open the door and you are carried decades back in time. Anyone who was a little handy and maintained one’s own vehicle once had a fully equipped workshop right at home. And it is precisely such atmosphere that one senses in the ŠKODA Museum’s restoration workshop. Of course, this shop has equipment hobbyist home mechanics can only dream about.
Among all the tools and machines, there are the carefully attended jewels themselves which all can appreciate, whether a vintage car lover or not. Four employees in the workshop look after the service and maintenance needs of the vehicles on display and those parked in the depot.
They also attend to new additions. At the time of our visit, they are working on three vehicles. The ŠKODA 1100 OHC, manufactured in the 1950s, is the first rare specimen. Its body has been lifted off and the chassis stands by itself. Only two such cars were ever produced without a roof, and one of those is awaiting total renovation ahead of a race. Not only must it look good; it must also run well. The vehicle’s body surface is expecting the most substantial interventions. Its laminate body moves on the frame, and this has led to formation of undesirable cracking. The restorers also check the transmission and the engine. The gear-shifting was not exactly smooth and so the transmission must be refurbished. This car will be like new in three months’ time.
The ŠKODA FAVORIT prototype in its classic agave colour
The ŠKODA FAVORIT prototype drove off the production line almost 30 years ago – in 1988. It came into the workshop from the old-timer depository in its classic agave colour. It is being prepared for the approaching anniversary. The car is in a good state, but it must be made fully roadworthy. The engine has been fixed, but the wiring still needs to be checked.
The 1937 ŠKODA RAPID is now fully functional and refurbished. Just like the ŠKODA 1100 OHC, it is red. Because it did not have an odometer, we do not know how many kilometres the car has travelled. It is still going strong after all those years, and now it has a new motor block.
The 1937 ŠKODA RAPID
When a car arrives for renovation, the workers consider what they can do by themselves. What they cannot manage must be commissioned to external specialized firms. For example, they do metal bodywork themselves but not painting, woodwork and upholstery. They also make frequent use of the local archive, studying the technical drawings and descriptions of vehicles as well as classic maintenance procedures.
They always try to use as many original parts as possible. If a part is beyond saving, they will make it themselves or have it produced. A number of machines assist them in their work.
They have a spot welder, a small and a large plate roller, and a metal shaper. They have a press for pressing bearings. They machine the old parts, sand and spray paint them.
Everyone working in the workshop must have a positive relationship with the vintage cars. Anyone can learn the procedures, but this work cannot be done without love. Most of the restorers, therefore, had helped out in a workshop since childhood. There are now four core employees in the department, plus their manager and a secretary. And believe it or not, they always have plenty to do.
JOSEF PETŘÍČEK HEAD OF THE RESTORATION WORKSHOP
I was trained as a tinsmith and have been working at ŠKODA for 33 years. I started in the shipping department, where new vehicles are being dispatched and attended to any needed repairs without damaging the paint. I was then doing the same thing in the preparation section of the paint shop. When a job opened up in the restoration workshop, I applied and got the job. I’ve been working here since 2005 as manager of the workshop. My favourite type of work here is in the field I studied – metalwork. Like all my colleagues, though, I do all types of work – fitting the car, working on the electronics. I learned everything in the workshop. To this day, I appreciate that I had the opportunity to learn from several old gentlemen who are no longer here.
My work is also my hobby. At home, I have a 1939 ČZ 175 motorcycle which I inherited and renovated over a period of four years. It’s completely done now, and all the vintage vehicle documents have been issued. Riding it is one of my great pleasures.