Take a look inside a unique cars depository

Take a look inside a unique cars depository

ŠKODA WORLD HERITAGE

The ŠKODA Museum in Mladá Boleslav contains a number of unique exhibits. These are mainly kept in the depository housing its collection of prototypes and sports cars.

29. 3. 2022

T he depository is divided into two parts: the tour begins with the precursors of mass-produced ŠKODA cars as well as studies and prototypes that never made it into production. The second part focuses on ŠKODA’s sporting history, with a series of competition cars immersing visitors in the exciting race atmosphere. Join us on a brief tour. Your guide is Michal Velebný, coordinator of the restoration workshop, who will present some of the most interesting exhibits.

Probably the first thing that catches the eye of most visitors to the depository is the black ŠKODA 110 SUPER SPORT “Ferat” coupé (1971/1981), a sports car prototype. Ten years after it was first developed, the car was modified to play a starring role in the film The Vampire of Ferat, a Czech horror film of the same name about a bloodthirsty car.

The pale blue ŠKODA 720 ID mid-range sedan, with bodywork by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro’s ITAL DESIGN studio, tells the story of the dashed hopes for a modern world-class car with a classic drive concept. In the early 1970s, this promising development was stymied by Czechoslovakia’s policy of normalisation.

ŠKODA 720 IDThe legendary black “Ferat” coupé, a modified version of the ŠKODA 110 SUPER SPORT, and a pale blue ŠKODA 720 ID sedan in front of the ŠKODA Museum depository.

Two stars of motor shows, specifically Frankfurt (2003) and Geneva (2005), tested potential customers’ reactions to models that ŠKODA was preparing for new market segments: the ŠKODA ROOMSTER MPV and the brand’s first SUV, the popular ŠKODA YETI.

The yellow ŠKODA JOYSTER, a three-door hatchback exhibited at Paris 2006, remained nothing more than a beautiful dream. But its equally applauded neighbour in the depository, the ŠKODA VISION C concept car, was given the green light, and the Czech carmaker’s designers used it to test the response to the crystalline design that would soon adorn the third-generation SUPERB.

On the far right, the ŠKODA VISISION C concept car, the first to feature the crystalline design; behind it a yellow ŠKODA JOYSTER study.

But now Michal Velebný is pointing out the oldest circuit racer in the collection, the cigar-shaped ŠKODA SUPERSPORT (1950) based on the Š 1101/1102 “Tudor”. Its robust mechanical base contrasts with the neighbouring pair of Formula 3 cars from 1965 and 1966, which share the modified technology of the ŠKODA 1000 MB sedan. Yes, the popular “MB” as contemporary racing cars with a rear-mounted engine.

The ŠKODA Museum in cyberspace

Video tours make it possible to visit the ŠKODA Museum from anywhere on earth. In addition to the depository, you can explore the current 120 Years of ŠKODA Motorsport exhibition, which is on display in Mladá Boleslav until 10 April 2022. In the next three episodes, the video tours take you to the Ferdinand Porsche Birthplace in Liberec–Vratislavice nad Nisou.

Coming after the sleek Formula 3 cars, the rudimentary yellow ŠKODA BUGGY presents a striking contrast. Based on the Š 100/110 L series, the BUGGY won its first domestic championship in 1971, taking both the 1,000 cm3 and 1,150 cm3 categories. The modified chassis platform bore a minimalist body with a roll bar. However, the limited capacity of its motorsports division meant that ŠKODA said goodbye to autocross during the 1972 season.

DSC3459-kopieŠKODA BUGGY (second left)

The ŠKODA SPIDER I was a prototype built in 1972 for circuit and hill-climb racing. In its very first season, Jaroslav Bobek won the B5 category championship with it. The 720 series’ 1771cm3 four-cylinder engine delivered 154 hp (113.3 kW) which, thanks to the aerodynamic bodywork, enabled it to reach a speed of 220 km/h. But just one ŠKODA SPIDER I was ever made. By contrast, the ŠKODA 120 S sedan became quite widespread, and was used to great effect both by the works team and by private racers from home and abroad.

The rear-engined development series ends with the ŠKODA 130 LR designed for Group B competition, which competed from 1985 to1988. It achieved a number of successes, such as in the Acropolis Rally, the RAC Rally, the 1000 Lakes Rally and more. The competition version of the 1,295 cm3 four-cylinder engine with twin Weber carburettors delivered up to 136 hp (100 kW), and the bodywork was lightened with aluminium bonnets and doors and plastic windows, among other things.

Depository of the ŠKODA Museum in Mladá Boleslav

From 1989 the works team used the ŠKODA FAVORIT, a modern construction with a transversely mounted front engine. The baton was then passed to the ŠKODA FELICIA Kit Car 1 500 (1995-1997), which had a standard 1.3 L engine block for automotive competition but a special crankshaft for a piston stroke of 78 mm instead of 72 mm. The power output was gradually increased from 150 hp (110 kW) to 166 hp (122 kW) in 1996. With this car, ŠKODA finished third in the 1996 World Championship in the F2 category.   

After an intermezzo with OCTAVIA Kit Car racers, ŠKODA stepped up to the top category, the WRC series. The ŠKODA OCTAVIA WRC (2001) on show at the ŠKODA Museum is the original competition car of the Schwarz – Hiemer team from the 2001 Safari Rally Kenya. Third place was ŠKODA Motorsport’s best finish in a World Championship event to date. The car is notable for its higher ground clearance to cope with the terrain, its front protective frame and its air intake mounted on the roof to counter increased dustiness. The 1,999 cm3 turbocharged four-cylinder DOHC engine delivers 300 hp (220.8 kW).

DSC3453-kopieThe racing section features a ŠKODA FABIA WRC that recalls the successes of the 2003 and 2004 rally seasons.

We end our tour of the depository with a reminder of its successor, the ŠKODA FABIA WRC (2003). This hatchback was powered by a turbocharged 1999 cm/3003 hp (220.8 kW) four-cylinder engine and weighed 1,230 kg, and its speedometer needle stopped at 250 km/h. The ŠKODA Museum exhibit was driven by drivers Auriol, Schwarz and Gardemeister in the 2003 and 2004 World Championship seasons. It was then converted to Evo II specification and used by ŠKODA Motorsport for testing.

Tradition of the ŠKODA Museum

The ŠKODA Museum’s precious collection comprises over 340 exhibits, including the company’s first car, the LAURIN & KLEMENT VOITURETTE A. The oldest exhibit is a SLAVIA bicycle from 1899. But the story of the museum’s collection begins in 1968. At that time, advertisements were published in the media offering to buy historic L&K/ŠKODA vehicles. Over the next six years, around 60 exhibits were assembled, the core of the current collection. The collection included unique items such as the only example of the aerodynamic ŠKODA 935 (1935) ever made. The collection gradually expanded over the following years as well, of course.

From the early 1970s, the public could learn about ŠKODA’s history at its Mladá Boleslav showroom, the forerunner of the ŠKODA Customer Centre. But presentation of carmaker’s inspiring traditions was raised to another level by the adaptation of a three-storey building that was part of the factory complex built in 1898-1912. Brons stationary combustion engines had been manufactured in this building up till then, hence the building’s popular name “Bronzák”.

The ŠKODA Museum was ceremonially opened on 22 September 1995 as part of the company’s 100th anniversary celebrations. During the first eight hours, 25,000 visitors admired the 55 vehicles on display. The museum also included a depository with another 130 L&K/ŠKODA vehicles, restoration workshops, the company archives and other specialist departments. A multi-purpose, large-capacity L&K Forum hall and the necessary facilities for visitors were also created.

After a significant upgrade, the ŠKODA Museum was again unveiled on 23 November 2012. The 1,800 m2 space really brings the brand’s history to life thanks to its interactive and multimedia concept. The main exhibition consists of three thematic blocks: Tradition, emphasising the brand’s values; Evolution, showcasing the transformation of the extensive product range; and Precision, showing how historical exhibits are restored in the adjacent specialist workshops. You can then visit the adjacent depository of prototypes and sports cars, or go to the Ferdinand Porsche Birthplace in Liberec-Vratislavice nad Nisou.