Happy Birthday, Dear FAVORIT!

Happy Birthday, Dear FAVORIT!

One of ŠKODA’s milestone models is celebrating its anniversary this year. It’s no exaggeration to say it was a breakthrough for the brand. On the occasion of ŠKODA FAVORIT’s and FORMAN’s thirtieth birthday, we’re chatting with two happy owners of these retro cars.

5. 9. 2017 Škoda World Heritage

If you lived in Europe in the 60s, 70s and 80s, you might’ve come across these small family cars. These cars were produced ‘behind the curtain’ but a bunch made it to the West, too: ŠKODA 1000 MB and 100, and later the range of 105, 120 and 130 models. All of them featured the RR (rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive) layout and all of them were very popular in former Czechoslovakia. The first appearance of a brand new model with the FWD (front-engine, front-wheel-drive) configuration happened at the 1987 engineering trade fair in Brno and wowed the crowds with its new concept and an elegant body by Bertone. With a little over a million cars made, it was produced until 1995.

Video of ŠKODA FAVORIT manufacturing (1994):

The hatchback FAVORIT and the FORMAN estate version replaced the older models on the throne. It’s likely that most Czechs and Slovaks over thirty have at least some experience with these cars: family trips, driving school, a gift from parents after graduation. To say the least, this vehicle is an inseparable part of this country’s history.


ŠKODA FAVORIT 135 L (1990)

The ŠKODA Storyboard visited two men who are just as connected to the ŠKODA brand. Both are lifelong ŠKODA fans (one of them even works for the manufacturer) and they’re proud and enthusiastic owners of a FAVORIT and a FORMAN — and both agreed to share the stories of their cars and a couple of interesting memories as well as the reasons they’ve owned these lookers up till today.


ŠKODA FORMAN GLX (1993), Apollo red

Daniel Rauscher (1990) has worked for ŠKODA since 2015; today he’s in the product strategy and module management department. He bought his first FORMAN, a Comfort Line trim with an injection engine made in 1994, in grammar school. He drove it later at university, too — but only from spring to autumn. The car spent winters in the garage, which is where it’s parked today waiting to be brought back to life.


ŠKODA FORMAN GLX (1993), Apollo red

Daniel Rauscher

“I’ve been a ŠKODA FAVORIT fan all my life. I remember my first contact with this car was sometime around 1992 when my dad would take me on trips in his typically brownish 136 L model. I fell for the car a few years later when my dad’s firm had one FORMAN Special Line in a beautiful ‘swan-white paint’ between 1994 and 1998. Well, ask my parents which type of car I drew all the time,” he laughs.




Jiří Zeržáň (1936) from Uherský Brod owns a unique piece: his 27-year old FAVORIT’s has a meager 43,000 kilometres in mileage! And you’d have a hard time finding a rusty spot on it.

In the 1990s, the demand for these cars was a lot higher than the production, which meant it was far from easy to buy a FAVORIT or FORMAN: “I bought my car in 1990, it was one of the first pieces in our county. I had to wait six months for it, there was even a waiting list,” says the pensioner, who worked in his hometown’s arms factory for most of his career. He’d had the iconic German Trabant before the FAVORIT and there were several reasons he decided for a change: it boasted a fancy design for its time, it was the cheapest on the market and most of all — it was a Czech car.

Jiří Zeržáň

Switching from Trabant was incredible. Subtle steering and gear changing, pretty and functional interior and great handling for the time

Switching from Trabant to a luxury car of that time was a great experience. “It was incredible. Subtle steering and gear changing, pretty and functional interior and great handling for the time. The higher seating position and tougher cushioning were no problem to get used to,” says Zeržáň who — buying a new car which were scarce — couldn’t choose his ideal version. So he bought the FAVORIT 135 L model with a given equipment which he couldn’t alter. “I had to take what was available,” he sighs.


ŠKODA FAVORIT 135 L (1990)


Daniel Rauscher was in a different situation. He was after a used car in a good shape: “Such ones are hard to come by these days. I ran across my current car in the Apollo red paint after half a year of searching. I gave it a brief check, negotiated about the price a bit and took it home right away.”

Rauscher, an avid and loyal ŠKODA fan, admits he’s never owned another brand of car. He had a second-generation FELICIA or a RAPID, now he drives a new OCTAVIA. And his FORMAN plays the role of a veteran.


ŠKODA FORMAN GLX (1993), Apollo red

His 135 GLX 43-kilowatt carburettor model features a higher trim which included a range of extra equipments in 1993: anatomic seats, central locking, sunroof, typical digital clock mounted on the ceiling, adjustable front seat belts and a Blaupunkt Boston sound system with ŠKODA Sound speaker set, which included tweeters. “An interesting feature of my car is the ambient light dimmer. The car also features front fog lights, a four-spoke steering wheel, a front strut, Ronal Centra alloy wheels and an engine noise insulation kit,” explains Rauscher.


Cutaway view of ŠKODA FAVORIT

The car is predictable, the sweet point of the clutch is distinctive, you can park it with precision and the non-power steering offers a fantastic feedback



If you’ve had the chance to drive an older car lately, the following words of appraisal might sound funny to you. But things were just different in the 90s, and these cars really were a huge leap forward. Consider this: ŠKODA FAVORIT was, after Lada Samara, the second front-wheel-driven car in the former Eastern Bloc that wasn’t a licensed copy of a western vehicle. As Daniel Rauscher says, “I love how predictable the car is, the sweet point of the clutch is distinctive, you can park it with precision and the non-power steering offers a fantastic feedback.”


ŠKODA FAVORIT, scale drawing

Rauscher says these cars have souls, and he shares another memory, a rather poetic one: “Before you get in and crank up, you’ll hear a bunch of typical noises other cars don’t make. First it’s the rattle of the Brano central locks, then the squeak of the one-sided key sliding in the ignition, the clank of the starter, the click of the headlight switch. Then a bang as the radio swallows the cassette, a snap of the reverse gear, the typical chink of the indicators and the crackle of the levers.


Have you forgotten to turn of the lights when leaving the car? The AKIN warning’s squealing will wake you up from lethargy in a second. If you’ve ever sat in a ŠKODA from the early 90s, you’ll definitely know these sounds. They’re the ones that make you smile and enjoy the ride.”


What both our ŠKODA owners point out is the reliability of their vehicles. “My car’s been working perfectly all those years, regardless of the 43-thousand mileage. I’ve always given it just the basic service, but it’s never suffered from any major faults — which is great considering I was using it for short urban drives most of the time. My car’s been taking me to the spa lately, the longest trips we made were to Slovakia and Austria,” Zerzáň recalls.



Daniel Rauscher adds: “The previous owner didn’t drive the car too much and provided only the basic service. That’s why most of the parts are original from 1993. At they still work. The mileage is a little over 79,000 kilometres. The only way the car’s ever seen snow is from an open garage, it’s always been scared of salted winter roads,” he laughs.


What are Rauscher’s memories of travelling with the FORMAN? “I’ll never forget going to see my grandma in Karlovy Vary with the before-mentioned FORMAN Special Line when my parents’ car was broken. I still recall many details — overtaking on the expressway or the clock on the ceiling. My brother-in-law remembers a FAVORIT in which his dad took him for a business trip to Germany. The car had a sunroof and was painted in an attractive gleaming colour called Star Blue. Later, my brother-in-law kept on telling everybody he met at school that his daddy and himself drove at 160 km/h on the German expressway!”


ŠKODA FAVORIT 135 L (1990)

Are cars just a means of transport to you or do they become cherished and pampered family members? Our two fans don’t hesitate: “Our car’s always been a member of the family, it was our Little Fav,” says our senior Zerzáň, getting all melancholic. The young ŠKODA lover, Rauscher, nods in agreement: “I’ve always been attached to all the cars I’ve had. I keep them clean and tidy all the time. In winter, my FORMAN is in the garage with a plastic sheet under it and covered with a cloth.” While Daniel Rauscher’s FORMAN is a veteran car now, Jiří Zeržáň keeps on using his FAVORIT regularly.



“And I want to go on maintaining it. Given my age, there’s no point in replacing it. My FAVORIT does a great job and I believe we’ll make it till the end together,” he says, adding that both of them have become veterans.

Yes, my car’s a veteran now, I only take it for a drive every now and then, most of the time it’s parked in the garage. The last time it got out was when it drove my wife to the altar,” Daniel Rauscher, says, as an end to his story.



The production of ŠKODA FAVORIT (assembling)

The family hatchbacks and estates ŠKODA FAVORIT and FORMAN debuted in 1987 at an engineering trade fair in Brno. The production continued from 1988 to 1995 (FAVORIT until 1994) producing as many as 783,167 and 219,254 units respectively. Utility versions called FAVORIT PRAKTIK, FORMAN PRAKTIK, PICK-UP (60,744 manufactured cars) and FORMAN PLUS were also made. The front-wheel-driven car with a 5-speed gearbox was powered by a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine. The maximum power was 40, 43, 46 and 50 kilowatts with the 0-100 km/h acceleration between 14 and 17 seconds.

The model underwent two facelifts with the first as early as 1991 when ŠKODA was acquired by VOLKSWAGEN. The first facelift consisted mostly of details, though: the asymmetrically positioned logo on the ‘grille’ moved to the centre and the air intake slot underneath disappeared (the air was drawn in through holes in the front bumper only). The materials were gradually improved but the looks remained untouched.

A more noticeable facelift came in 1993. The radiator cover featured a new air intake slot (called a ‘moustache’) and the radiator itself was narrower.

The bumpers had a new shape which improved aerodynamics, and wheel track was made wider and the wheels got a brand new design. The car’s interior was black and improved safety was achieved through new door braces. The door handles and fuel door were a bit rounder and the car received improved wiring. You can recognise a facelift model by the brand’s logo in the centre of the tailgate.