The best-preserved Favorit in the world
So for the next three decades the white Favorit’s odometer read 34 kilometres. That is how an underground garage in an Athens suburb came to house perhaps the best-preserved Škoda Favorit in the world. Today the car is back in the country where it was made. In Czechia. And it belongs to someone who has a lot in common with the Škoda brand.
“Somebody in Greece discovered the car in autumn 2022 and put it up for auction. When I saw it, I thought I had to make this piece of history mine,” recounts racing driver Jiří Mičánek Junior. He was just seven years old when the Favorit set off on its one and only journey. But he had motor racing blood in his veins. His father Jiří Mičánek Senior had driven single-seater racing cars in prestigious formula series competitions in the then Czechoslovakia and eastern Europe, most of them with Škoda engines. He drove them to ten Czechoslovak championship titles both in circuit races and hillclimb events.
The car was left untouched in a communal garage in Athens for thirty years.
“I, too, started out in Škoda-engined formula series cars. My parents had a Favorit for everyday driving and dad used them in his circuit racing school at the start of the 1990s,” Jiří says, explaining why he decided to bid for the “Greek” Favorit.
A well-kept investment
He outbid all his rivals. In the final stage it was just him and one other Czech racing driver, Boris Vaculík, who has competed in the Dakar Rally, among other events. “When we learnt it was just the two of us left, we called each other and told each other what our bidding limits were. Mine was higher, so agreed we wouldn’t keep pushing up the price,” Jiří says with a laugh. Even so, the car cost him 24,000 euros, or around 600,000 Czech crowns. That’s about six times more than it cost in 1993 when it was made. But if we take inflation into account, the price is almost the exact equivalent of the current value.
The original plastic covers hadn’t even been removed from the seats.
Two months later, the Škoda Favorit arrived in a shipping container in Frankfurt, where its new owner collected it. With a tow rope, of course, because a gem like this shouldn’t be worn out by long journeys. And the new owner doesn’t really plan to drive it much, just to keep it in its pristine state for as long as possible.
Having spent thirty years in an underground garage, the car genuinely looks like it just rolled off the production line. It even has the protective plastic covers on the seats; the engine compartment has completely intact paper labels; and the snow-white paint on the wheel arches shows that the Favorit drove the 34 kilometres from showroom to garage on a dry road.
After three decades, the Favorit had run up 37 kilometres.
Even so, there are a few non-original details. Three decades in a south European garage left scratches on the paintwork from other cars manoeuvring next to it. They are especially visible on the door edges that were expertly sculpted by Bertone designers in the 1980s.
Accessories requested by the owner who didn’t drive the car
The car comes from the generation after the 1993 facelift. That’s clear at first glance from the contoured grille with the badge in the middle – the original model had the Czech carmaker’s logo on the side, in keeping with the original design. The interior has modern grey decor, the original version with the beige dashboard reflecting the earlier taste of the late 1980s, when the Favorit was first launched in Czechoslovakia and Europe.
The Greek dealer – probably at the owner’s request – fitted the car with some design accessories: the imitation wood dashboard decor, for example, or the then trendy colour stickers that copy the lines of the car’s sides. Otherwise it’s the basic version, designated at the time by the letters LX. Its owners had to do without a rev counter, for example, its place taken by a huge clock in the dashboard.
The dealer fitted the optional wood-effect decor on the dashboard.
Under the bonnet it has the engine that passed the test of time and was developed directly in Mladá Boleslav. It has a capacity of 1.3 litres and delivers an output of 40 kW. It is controlled by Bosch electronics, which replaced the original carburettor. The only thing the new owner has done to the engine was, of course, to change the oil and filters. And the battery, needless to say. Thanks to this, the new Favorit starts immediately when the key is turned, and only a low murmur comes from the engine compartment. Even thirty years have done nothing to diminish the exciting sensation of hearing a brand new engine.
A little piece of history
The only disappointment is that we can’t drive the car at least a few kilometres and transport ourselves back to the days when the Favorit was one of the best compact cars of the late ’80s and early ’90s. But the top speed – 137 kilometres per hour – would still be out of reach, as even after 30 years this Škoda Favorit would still need running in. After arriving back in the car’s home country, its owner drove it for three kilometres, so today the odometer reads 37.
The almost pristine Škoda Favorit travelled home to Czechia in a shipping container to keep the odometer readout below forty.
So what does the new owner plan to do with this exceptionally well-preserved car? Jiří Mičánek is clear – he’s going to keep it in its original condition, which means not driving it. It will be a historic memento of his racing family and their connection with the Škoda brand in the future, one of a pair. “When my dad was getting rid of the Favorits from his racing school, I bought one from him out of nostalgia. It’s completely worn out, of course, but I want to restore it and then display both cars together – the racer and the runabout,” says Jiří Mičánek Jr.
Jiří Mičánek Jr. (36)
The elder son of Czechoslovak racing legend Jiří Mičánek started his circuit racing career in the Czech national formula series, where the use of Škoda engines was mandatory at the time. Under the guidance of his father, Jiří Mičánek won his first Czech championship title in 2004. He was the youngest driver in the history of Czechoslovak and Czech circuit racing to do so, achieving it before his eighteenth birthday.
After taking part in the prestigious Formula BMW series, where he met a number of names from the current Formula 1 start list, Jiří Mičánek began to concentrate on closed car racing, winning his last Czech championship title with his brother Tomáš in 2010. He now manages his own team in the prestigious Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe championship. He occasionally takes part in the FIA CEZ Central European Circuit Championship and, following in his father’s footsteps, he has also taken up hillclimb racing for the last two years, finishing second in the Czech championship in 2022.