Icons get a makeover: ŠKODA POPULAR MONTE CARLO

Icons get a makeover: ŠKODA POPULAR MONTE CARLO

What would the legendary ŠKODA POPULAR MONTE CARLO look like if it was made by a contemporary designer? Enter the world of designers’ imagination and find out what inspires them.

3. 11. 2020 Škoda World Innovation & technology

Ljudmil Slavov transformed this iconic car into a futuristic and funky roadster. “The POPULAR MONTE CARLO is one of the most beautiful cars ever made, and I found its history fascinating as well. It is incredibly elegant and tasteful,” says Ljudmil, explaining the reasons for choosing this particular icon from the history of ŠKODA. And no wonder: the coupé version is a legendary Czech car.

The latest in our Icons Get a Makeover series showcases a modern vision of another famous ŠKODA.

Coincidentally, the ŠKODA Museum is just preparing to renovate the roadster version to restore it to the glory the coupé enjoys. As Ljudmil examines the car, he immediately explains that he decided to pick the roadster, because that version makes it easier to show off the car’s interior design as well. 

“The original roadster’s interior is elegant and practical – I can see the continuity that has lasted to the present day. Functionality, practicality, elegance and purity remain our fundamental principles today,” the designer says. The POPULAR had a speedometer in the middle of the dashboard, and Ljudmil retained this detail, bringing it up-to-date as a kind of hologram. On either side there were storage compartments, but the designer replaced these with modern displays giving readouts of all the information necessary for the car’s occupants.

Sporty nature

The roadster’s more sporty nature also influenced his choice. That is highlighted by the storage space behind the concept car’s seats, which contain two racing helmets beneath a glass cover. “I wondered about putting in two child seats and making the car a bit more practical in the style of the mass-produced cabriolets of the day, but in the end I went for a more sporty look,” says Ljudmil. The original POPULAR MONTE CARLO roadster had a seat that tipped forward and was nicknamed the “mother-in-law’s seat”.

The exterior was given very aerodynamic lines that combine the harmoniousness of the historic template with the almost statuesque muscularity of modern ŠKODA cars. The elegantly curved rear with a pronounced “fin” is a clear legacy of the original. Ljudmil chose a very distinctive approach to the typical radiator grille design. “I tried out various vertical configurations that were closer to the original, but this kind of layout is slightly problematic for today’s cars, so in the end I went down a different route,” he says, describing the front where the grille stretches to the headlights, recreating the effect that made the original so highly prized.


Many people regard the POPULAR MONTE CARLO as the most beautiful Czech car ever. It was created in 1936 as a works car for the Monte Carlo Rally. As the car, crewed by Pohl and Hausman, came second in its category, ŠKODA decided to capitalise on this success by making a road version called the ŠKODA POPULAR SPORT MONTE CARLO. A total of seventy were made in the factory at Mladá Boleslav in coupé and roadster versions.

Get funky

The logo is another interesting detail and historic legacy. Instead of the manufacturer’s badge, the car was given a red circle as its principal graphic motif. In the original this circle bore the words Monte Carlo, but Ljudmil placed a stylised emblem of the model in it. The carmaker’s name adorns the front in modern lettering, like on the rear of today’s ŠKODA models. “The classic logo struck me as too retro for the radiator grille, and the lettering creates an impression of heightened elegance and value. What’s more, ŠKODA used to feature lettering on some of its cars instead of the logo, so it’s also a nod to the brand’s history,” he explains.

“When I look at the original POPULAR MONTE CARLO, I immediately start hearing jazz,” the designer says. But the music that encapsulates the ŠKODA brand today is funk rather than jazz, according to Ljudmil. That’s one reason why his concept is fresh and playful, combining almost futuristic lines with a retro feel. Ljudmil is fascinated by music. “I’m driven by the desire to spice up the design so that it evokes the same emotions as music. But this quest is certainly a long-term process,” he adds. And while we’re on the subject of music as inspiration: besides references to the original model, you can even find a treble clef in the lines of his vision of the POPULAR MONTE CARLO.

Ljudmil Slavov

Originally from Bulgaria, he came to the Czech Republic aged eleven when his parents moved here over 20 years ago. He graduated from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. He got to know the Volkswagen Group environment while on a one-year internship in Bratislava. After that he specialised in vehicle and heavy machinery design. He has worked in the interior design department of ŠKODA Design for three years now. He is a keen cyclist and tries to spend as much of his free time as he can with his family. He is also an architecture buff, but it is music that inspires him most in his work.