Meet some original and lesser-known Škodas

Meet some original and lesser-known Škodas

Our latest look back at the Czech carmaker’s vibrant history reveals the creativity to be found in its workforce. You’ll discover cars designed for specific markets, prototypes that never made it into production, and unexpectedly original creations.

9. 4. 2024 Škoda World

1909: FCR, a tall Laurin & Klement racing car

Instead of engine displacement, racing cars used to be classified according to the number and bore of cylinders, and there were no limits on piston stroke (and therefore the resulting engine capacity). With this classification system in mind, Otto “Hiero” Hieronimus, a renowned designer of cars and aircraft, created the Laurin & Klement FCR. Two examples were built in the summer of 1909. The 100-horsepower (73.6 kW) four-cylinder with OHC timing and a displacement of 5,672 cc had an astonishing ratio between the 85 mm bore and the stroke of the cast-iron pistons that oscillate at tremendous speed over a distance of 25 centimetres. Not surprisingly, the minimalist bodywork was absurdly tall. On its debut in September 1909 at the prestigious hill climb race in the Austrian spa town of Semmering, the victorious Hiero achieved a remarkable average of 72.1 km/h on a track with gradients of up to 9.2%.

1932: Škoda 932 – a Beetle forerunner

The Škoda 932 prototype was nicknamed the “Kadlomobile” after its instigator, Karel Hrdlička, who was the head of Škoda in the 1930s. In Germany around this time, one of the men working on the concept for an affordable family car with a rear engine and rear-wheel drive was Ferdinand Porsche – his work led to the famous Volkswagen Beetle. Škoda’s version was given a four-cylinder air-cooled boxer SV engine with a displacement of 1,498 cm3 and delivering 30 horsepower (22 kW). The only unit of the car with curved bodywork was approved for road use on 26 October 1932. It was ahead of its time – production of the first rear-engined Škoda 1000 MB started 32 years later. In 1934 a new prototype version was made, this time with a less curvy body.

1962: Škoda type 998 – the “Agromobile”

In 1962, Škoda developed a light off-road car designated as Škoda type 998, or “Agromobile”. Three prototypes and a ten-unit test series were made. It was intended to withstand a life of hard service in forestry, agriculture, opencast mines and (not entirely officially) military use. The easy-to-drive machine was 3.5 metres long and could carry up to ten seated people on its flatbed or an equivalent amount of cargo. Its hinged windshield could be folded down, which made the car easier to navigate through the forest undergrowth and also made it easier to transport by military aircraft as a vehicle for paratroopers, for example. Although the “Agromobile” performed excellently in off-road conditions, it did not make it into serial production.

1970-1971: A Škoda for Pakistan

The Skopak pick-up (the name is a contraction of Škoda Pakistan) was the brainchild of Haroon Industries Ltd, which sold Škodas in Karachi and was looking for a model adapted to the local conditions. Based on an older-series Škoda Octavia chassis, the model had a steel skeleton, which laminated glass panels could be screwed onto. That gave rise to a modular vehicle with various different versions that made repairs and a future facelift easy. Measuring 4,200 x 1,640 x 1,250 mm, the Skopak was just 1,100 mm tall when the front windscreen frame was laid flat, so it could easily pass under obstacles like fallen trees. It could carry a load of 500 kg plus a trailer load of up to 750 kg.

1974-1975: Summer fun in a Škoda Buggy 736

Dune buggies or beach buggies experienced a huge boom in the 1970s. Škoda technology first appeared under this open body style thanks to the company’s Italian and Belgian dealerships. Based on the rear-engined Škoda 110 saloon, the Czech carmaker developed the Škoda Buggy 736, a doorless convertible. The robust windscreen frame and the high protective arch over the passengers’ heads were designed to maximise safety. The design was the work of Josef Čech, and four of the five prototypes from 1974-1975 were made by apprentices at the Mladá Boleslav academy. Production did not take off, however, as the small depth of the rear seats and the lack of reflectors on the back didn’t comply with the legislation then in force. What’s more, there was no political support for a frivolous Western-style model behind the Iron Curtain, even though the creators tried to argue that the buggy could be used at airports or for organizers of events and parades.

Related Stories Based on tags: 2024, Heritage