When the ŠKODA 1101 rolled off the production line for the first time in Mladá Boleslav on Monday, 6 May 1946, ŠKODA had already been the largest Czech car manufacturer and exporter for around 10 years – a position the company has held consistently to this day. The ‘Tudor’ followed on seamlessly from the successful POPULAR and RAPID series, although it differed from the POPULAR 1101 from 1940 in more than just its modern body design. For example, the ‘Tudor’, which was developed in secret during the Second World War, focused on improved road safety. This was achieved, among other things, by using powerful hydraulic brakes and hydraulic shock absorbers on the front axle, which also raised the comfort to a new level. In addition, there was a noticeable reduction in noise levels, which was achieved by combining the wooden body with natural insulating materials and wool upholstery.
Cleverly designed: Lightweight central tube frame and all-round independent suspension
The vehicle’s modern design was based on a rigid and relatively light central tube frame with all-round independent suspension. A powerful OHV four-cylinder petrol engine with a displacement of 1,089 cm3 powered the car. It produced 23.6 kW (32 hp) at 4,600 rpm and had replaceable ‘wet’ cylinder liners that made servicing easier thanks to direct water cooling. The basic four-seater version with a two-door closed body (external dimensions 4050 x 1500 x 1520 mm) weighed only 940 kg. The combination of these features resulted in a top speed of 100 km/h, which was remarkable for the time, with a moderate fuel consumption of around eight litres per 100 km. A ground clearance of 200 mm, together with the robust chassis design, ensured that the ŠKODA performed well even on light terrain. It was this versatility that also helped the new model from Mladá Boleslav make its way onto the American, African and Asian markets.
The ‘Tudor’ was available in several body variants. To best serve the various needs of customers at home and abroad, a four-door saloon was added to the line-up alongside the two-door model, which offered more convenient access to the rear seats. The range of open bodies included the popular ‘Tudor Convertible’ with a textile folding roof and doors with fixed frames, as well as an elegant roadster version. For more practical needs, the ‘Tudor’ could also be ordered as a van or estate (station wagon – STW). The latter offered a 1,490 mm long and 980 -1,380 mm wide cargo area with the rear seat folded down.
A bestseller on a world tour: Exported to 76 countries
The ŠKODA 1101 went on sale on the Czechoslovak market in May 1946 for 67,700 crowns, excluding tyres. At the time, tyres were still in short supply due to the war and were not included in the package. Moreover, given the difficult situation, customers had to present a special ration card entitling them to purchase a new car. The career of the ŠKODA 1101 ended in March 1952, paradoxically four months later than the modernised 1102 model built from 1948. The ŠKODA 1102, also nicknamed ‘Tudor’, differed from its predecessor in appearance with its modified bumpers and somewhat plainer radiator grille. In the interior, moving the gear stick to the steering column gave drivers and passengers more legroom. A total of 66,904 ‘Tudors’ were built in civilian versions between 1946 and 1952. Over 65% of all ŠKODA 1101 and 1102 vehicles went to foreign customers. By 1951, the list of export nations included 76 countries. The most important markets included Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as more distant countries such as Australia, Brazil, India, the South African Union and Canada. At the same time, it was not only security forces in Czechoslovakia that relied on the Kübelwagen derivatives with the designation ŠKODA 1101 VO (vojenský otevřený – open-top military vehicle) and 1101 P (pohotovostní – stand-by vehicle); over 4,000 units were delivered worldwide.
Success in motorsport: Class victory at the 24-hour race in Spa, Belgium
The ŠKODA 1101/1102 also recorded many significant achievements on racetracks around the world. One such success came on 11 July 1948. At the 24-hour race in Spa, Belgium, three ‘Tudors’ registered by the local car importer Healers clinched an impressive class victory. Even heavy and prolonged rainfall could not slow down the cars, which crossed the finish line in close succession after 1,972 kilometres. During the pit stops together, they did not waste much time refuelling, thanks not only to the larger 55-litre tank but also to the exceptionally low fuel consumption of 8.1 litres per 100 km – at an average speed of 82.16 km/h. With only around half of the participants completing the challenging 42-hour race, the ŠKODA team was the only one to do so without any penalty points. In the same year, the victory of Uruguayan architect Arturo Porro in the Montevideo-Melo-Montevideo race also strengthened the Czech brand’s motorsport reputation. Second place went to ŠKODA AUTO works driver Borrat Fabini, who continued the brand’s long series of pre-war successes with the ŠKODA POPULAR in his ‘Tudor’. In Europe, the works team led by Václav Bobek, Jaroslav Netušil, Viktor Krupička and Miroslav Fousek dominated numerous challenging rallies such as the Raid Polski, the Swiss Rally Interlaken and the Austrian Alpine Rally.
In September 1949, the special ŠKODA Sport with aluminium bodywork and a shortened wheelbase finally took over the baton on the racetracks from the Š 1101/1102 cars that were very similar to series production models. The racer, which could reach speeds of up to 140 km/h, held its own in the 24-hour race at Le Mans (24-25 June 1950), among other events, where it defended pole position in its class for 13 hours and secured fifth place in the overall standings despite experiencing a malfunction. The 1,089 cm3 four-cylinder with 31 kW (42 hp) at 5,200 rpm ran on a mixture of petrol, ethanol and acetone. The ŠKODA SUPERSPORT with its aluminium body and removable wings represented a new stage in the innovative sports car’s development. It was manufactured in three versions in 1950, the power of the engine increased to 88 kW (120 hp) and its top speed was 170 km/h. A supercharged powertrain with a displacement of 1,500 cm3 was added later and accelerated the racing car to up to 200 km/h. Many components of these purpose-built cars – such as the high-quality crank mechanism of the engine, the clutch, the gearbox and other assemblies – came directly from the series-production ŠKODA 1101/1102 ‘Tudor’. They could be easily modified for racing and at the same time demonstrated their impressive durability even under the toughest conditions.
The legacy of the successful ‘Tudors’ was taken up in 1952 by the ‘Sedans’, as the ŠKODA 1200/1201 models were called, followed three years later by the ‘Spartaks’ (Š 440/445). The development of vehicles with central tubular frames finally culminated in the popular duo OCTAVIA and FELICIA, whose career only came to an end shortly before Christmas 1971.