ŠKODA TUDOR: A Car That Still Has a Lot to Offer

ŠKODA TUDOR: A Car That Still Has a Lot to Offer

Innovation Design

This car was not designed for mass production. The aim of the ŠKODA TUDOR concept from 2002 was to showcase the potential offered by Czech designers. It was a test the car passed with flying colours.

25. 4. 2019

Not only did they design a well-balanced car that is still beautiful today, but they also laid the foundations for the brand to be inspired by Bohemian crystal and foreshadowed ŠKODA’s signature C-shaped lights.

A traditional four-seater coupé combining timeless elegance with sporty rapaciousness, the ŠKODA TUDOR can now be found in the collection of the ŠKODA MUSEUM in Mladá Boleslav. In 2000, the car’s “spiritual father” was Wilfried Bockelmann, then Head of Technological Development at ŠKODA.

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“In 2000, Wilfried Bockelmann came up with a new challenge: design further cars besides the existing trinity in production – the FABIA, OCTAVIA and SUPERB,” says Zdeněk Cibulka, who still works for the ŠKODA Design Department. “This project resulted, among other things, in a FABIA-based pick-up, an OCTAVIA convertible, and a SUPERB estate derivative. It was pretty obvious right from the outset that these would never be production cars, but the point was to demonstrate our competence and ability to cope with more challenging tasks, in other words to show what the designers in Mladá Boleslav could do.”

The design team surpassed all expectations. Guided by the then chief designer Thomas Ingenlath, Zdeněk Cibulka designed an elegant coupé called the TUDOR, and this car was what impressed Wilfried Bockelmann most. With a well-coordinated and enthusiastic team in place, the Design Department then continued this work apace. One of the keys to success in design work is a good model-maker. Originally 1:4, this model was enlarged on a computer and used to produce parts for an actual-size plastic model. The final car followed immediately after that. The whole process took a matter of months.

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Besides the car’s two doors and its smoothly descending roofline, the side view is dominated by two rising lines: one of them starts at the headlamps and ends on the bottom edge of the side windows, the other one (lower) leads from the door handles and extends as far as the rear wings. These two lines intersect in the middle to dynamically widen the rear wings.

“The first drawings looked completely different, because we actually designed a completely new showcar with original front and rear sections, quite different from what was being produced at the time,” says Zdeněk Cibulka. “Then we got the go-ahead to produce a mock-up, but at that stage we had to rein it in by assimilating it more with a production car – the SUPERB in this case.” The designers took the SUPERB’s fascia and the rear section without making major changes to them, except for the taillights.

The taillights were a bold solution. “At the time, lights were simply involved creating a chamber and putting bulbs into it, and the designer’s role was just to design the outer shape of the unit,” recalls Zdeněk Cibulka. In the TUDOR, however, the direction indicator and the reversing light are not positioned beside each other, which would have been par for the course at that time. Instead, the orange indicator bulb is hidden behind the reversing light reflector. The indicator light reflects from the reflective surface to direct the beam around the reversing light reflector. “This is precisely where the brand’s signature C-shaped lighting came from. Later on, this element was taken to a new level in the second-generation OCTAVIA,” says Cibulka. The red glass cover of the taillight hugs three sides of the reflector perimeter.

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The TUDOR’s interior drew on top-quality onyx- and ivory-coloured materials. The dashboard is dominated by a three-spoke sports steering wheel and two displays: one below the central air vents for the navigation system, another on the centre console for air-conditioning control. A horizontal matte-aluminium strip lends a touch of sportiness to the interior, much like the aluminium, chrono-style scales in the control instrumentation. The engine configuration was sporty as well – a powerful six-cylinder 2.8 30V unit designed to produce 142 kW of power combined with a five-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.

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The stylish sign on the tailgate was one of the most characteristic details of the ŠKODA TUDOR, and you might be interested to know that by this point the designers were already inspired by Bohemian crystal when coming up with a font. “We were looking for a suitable font to be used for the name, something different from the then official font, something simple yet striking,” says Zdeněk Cibulka. The new font was crisp-cut and textured to resemble cut glass. A few years later, this style was developed further, gradually morphing into the entire structure we now see across all current ŠKODA models.

The original grey-and-brown metallic paint was replaced with dark red shortly before the public premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in 2002. The TUDOR garnered well-deserved admiration there, and it was then put on display to the Czech public at the ŠKODA MUSEUM in Mladá Boleslav.

The TUDOR subsequently travelled to an exhibition in India where, under rather dramatic circumstances, it got lost after the event and was not found until several months later at a train station following an intensive search by the authorities. On its return to the Czech Republic, the car had to be completely renovated.

“Whenever I see it at the Museum, I still feel proud of how good a car we designed all those years ago,” says Zdeněk Cibulka, concluding his reminiscences of the TUDOR.

Zdeněk Cibulka


 
He joined the ŠKODA Design Department in 1995, where he currently works as Exterior Design Coordinator. He has been involved in a range of design projects, including the first-generation SUPERB and the second-generation OCTAVIA and SUPERB. He is one of the most senior members of the Mladá Boleslav design team. He is involved in the development of existing and future ŠKODA models. “Whenever we design a new car, it goes without saying that we try to accommodate the preferences and requirements of our customers. But I have to really like the car’s design right from the outset - that is equally important to me,” says Zdeněk Cibulka, outlining his work philosophy.

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Zdeněk Cibulka
Exterior Design Coordinator
at ŠKODA

The ŠKODA TUDOR in figures

 The ŠKODA TUDOR in figures

TUDOR is a name featuring prominently in ŠKODA’s history thanks to the car that spearheaded the company’s renewed production operations in the aftermath of the Second World War. The ŠKODA 1101 was based on the pre-war POPULARs and bore the same numbering as the type assembled during the war. However, what stood this car apart from its forerunners when it was introduced in May 1946 was its boldly revamped, appealing design. At the time, the carmaker was keeping staunchly to the curt number-based name Š 1101, so it was the motorists themselves who came up with a better name for the popular and reliable vehicle: as it had a two-door body, they used the English “two-door”, which evolved in Czech into TUDOR. This name quickly caught on and was even used for other body versions, including the four-door sedan and the estate. The range also included a convertible and an open-top military and police vehicle. In 1948, the TUDOR was facelifted and renumbered Š 1102. By the time production ended in 1952, almost 67,000 of these vehicles had been made. More than two thirds were exported, so they could be seen in droves on the roads in Pakistan, Australia and Brazil. In Europe, the bestselling export markets were the Netherlands and Poland.

ŠKODA 1101 ‘Tudor’

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