Treasures from the garage: TOP 5 Škoda veterans

Treasures from the garage: TOP 5 Škoda veterans

A car inherited from your grandfather can turn into gold, but not always. Historic ŠKODA cars are a good example. Which are worth investing in and where can you get hold of one?

9. 1. 2020 Škoda World

When veteran owner Jiří Tlustoš stops somewhere with his “R coupé”, in other words his ŠKODA 110 R coupé from 1977, he is used to people staring, and even offering to buy the car off him on the spot. “My answer is always the same: ,I’ll never sell‘. But I’m not surprised, 110 R coupés are trendy right now. Before it was MBs, today it’s 110 R coupés.”

The demand for veterans with the ŠKODA badge on the bonnet is growing, not just in Czechia but around the world. For instance, a stunningly renovated pre-war ŠKODA POPULAR with gorgeous roadster bodywork recently fetched 60,000 euros in Germany.

Naturally, it’s old LAURIN & KLEMENT models with wooden felloe wheels that are most in demand, followed by interwar legends like the POPULAR roadster or luxury SUPERB, but there is also interest in post-war FELICIA models or the aforesaid 110 R coupé. That is confirmed by Jiří Tlustoš, who bought his 110 R years ago at a classic car meet and didn’t hesitate for a second. “Today, the price I paid for it would hardly be enough for four tyres, its value shot up. People think I inherited a gold mine in the garage from my dad.” Classic car enthusiasts are increasingly training their sights on models from the 1970s and 80s. That’s because the fastest-rising prices are for cars from the childhood memories and dreams of people who are in their forties and fifties today.

Jiří Tlustoš

Look at TOP 5 investments in ŠKODA veterans according to Michal Velebný’s ŠKODA MUSEUM restoration workshop coordinator
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Ultra-rare veterans

The ŠKODA brand is one of the world’s oldest automotive companies still trading. In the 125 years of its existence it has produced numerous different models and millions of vehicles. As a result, there should be quite a few veterans on the market. But the problem is that the number of units produced grew very slowly during the twentieth century. To give you an idea: LAURIN & KLEMENT, the biggest motor works in the Austro-Hungarian Empire with its population of over 50 million people, produced just 453 cars in 1914, a figure that can’t help raise a smile. Not many of those have survived. 

Renovation of ŠKODA 935 Dynamic

At the end of the 1930s, the Czechoslovak automotive market leader from Mladá Boleslav supplied 7,677 cars to customers in a year. The firm currently produces almost 115 times more vehicles per year. Around five million cars were produced in the firm’s first 96 years before its acquisition by Volkswagen Group. It took just 15 years to make the next five million. And the pace of manufacture continues to rise.

Driven till they fell apart

Statistics may be dull, but they tell us something about the availability of vehicles from various periods of history: the handful of preserved LAURIN & KLEMENT cars hardly ever appear in ordinary ads or auctions. The supply of interwar production is also fairly limited, especially if you are looking for a roadworthy and relatively original car. Just around 5% of the veterans of all marques sold in the main international markets in 2018 were pre-war models. What’s more, we have to consider the fact that the vast majority of cars made in that period were driven till they fell apart. Then they were melted down or, in the better-case scenario, were converted into small tractors and the like by amateurs.   

At a very rough estimate, one twentieth of the cars made before 1945 survived into the twenty-first century; the survival rate is higher among exceptional models, and above all sports and luxury models. For that reason, there is only a wide range of ŠKODA cars from the past half-century, but here the big supply meets an even bigger demand.

Petr Ort, a valuation specialist, court expert on economics and lifelong veteran collector, says: “One interesting, somewhat illogical, but statistically provable phenomenon is the fall in prices of pre-war cars on the international market. The high prices of renovation work need not correspond to the market price, no original spare parts exist and some are practically impossible to make new (like crankshafts). What’s more, these cars are unsuitable for ordinary road use today. Feeble brakes or lights, low top speeds, not to mention passive safety features. Behavioural economics says that a large proportion of collectors are either looking for their dad’s car or a model they once desired but couldn’t afford.”

Petr Ort


That is confirmed by Jiří Tlustoš: his dad didn’t have a 110 R coupé, but buying one was his childhood dream. So when he saw a beautiful red model from 1977 at a classic car meet, he didn’t hesitate. “It was irresistible, I made the decision on the spot. What’s more, the previous owner had given it a new paint job, it was otherwise in good condition, and even today it can do 140 km/h and cope with journeys to Italy, so there was no additional cost for immediate repairs.”

A living brand is an advantage 

If you want to buy a veteran as an investment, there are a few basic rules you should remember. “With modern cars, the drop in value is fastest in the first five years on the road. Then it slows down till it hits ten years of age and subsequently declines to the age of 25. The price evolution is reliably predicted by what are known as depreciation curves. After a quarter of a century, approximately 3% of originally made cars survive and hit their rock-bottom price. They stop being (from the economic perspective) vehicles and become collector’s items,” adds Petr Ort.

“Living” brands, meaning brands that are still active like ŠKODA, have an advantage. In general, their models tend to be more sought-after and highly valued than once comparably expensive cars made by now-defunct manufacturers. 

It also applies that brands are more popular on their domestic markets, as patriotism plays a major role when people buy veterans. So you’ll find the majority of roadworthy ŠKODA veterans in Czech garages and barns; having said that, it would be wrong to think that ŠKODA veterans are a rarity in European or international auctions. You can often find models that were intended for export. That does not just apply to attractive sports cars like the OCTAVIA TOURING SPORT, the FELICIA cabriolet or ŠKODA 110 R coupé. The majority of the increasingly sought-after standard ŠKODA 1000 MB sedans were designed for export – a full 70% in 1965.

ŠKODA model range in August 1970

As for the 110 R (1970-1980), just 25,846 of the 57,085 manufactured units remained in Czechoslovakia. The British imported 10,412 ŠKODA 110 Rs; Yugoslavia 7,584; and West Germany 2,617, while just 288 ŠKODA 110 Rs found a home in East Germany. So if it’s this sporty model you’re after, British auctions are the place to start.

Jiří Tlustoš, who also repairs veterans, adds that it’s essential to think about the availability of spare parts. “I am just renovating my ŠKODA MB from 1966 and I’ve stopped counting the cost. We also repair English veterans and today there’s basically no difference if you’re renovating a Czech or English veteran. There price is pretty much the same. It’s easier to find parts for English cars, you just have to order them, but with Czech cars it depends what you can find in various garages. Slovaks make replica tyres, but spare parts are hard to find. It usually requires a bit of luck, and this naturally increases the cost of renovation.”




1925-1929, dozens of surviving units

One tip for a relatively accessible model could be the LAURIN & KLEMENT/ŠKODA 110. Three thousand of them were made in the second half of the 1920s, and parts can be found now and again in various markets, so some collectors assemble the car of their dreams like a puzzle. With its relatively powerful 1.8 or two-litre engine, the 110 can run at 80 km/h for long stretches and so does not hold up modern traffic.


1905-1907, up to 10 surviving units

Cars have been rolling out of Mladá Boleslav for 114 years now. In the 1905-1925 period they were made under the LAURIN & KLEMENT marque. Only a handful of the first model, the VOITURETTE A, have survived. And most of them are in museums. Additionally, a total of just two thousand units of the most widespread L & K model, the S series, were made between 1911 and 1924, with countless different versions. It seems that the formerly promising sources such as Hungary, a former part of the Austro-Hungarian domestic market, had dried

ŠKODA 1000 MB/1100 MB

1964-1969, thousands of surviving units

The launch of the production line (1929) was a quantitative turning point, with ŠKODA’s output more than doubling over ten years, despite the economic crisis (1928: 3,579 units; 1938: 7,677 units). A fourfold jump came thanks to the opening of a new part of the plant for the MB range with the rear engine (1963: 42,550 units; 1973: 162,208 units). That figure remained largely the same throughout the rest of the 1970s and 80s.

Transport costs can be high

As confirmed by Michal Velebný, head of the ŠKODA MUSEUM restoration workshop, collectors often successfully buy cars in Serbia or France. But the cars are usually in a condition requiring extensive repair work; they often need entire components replaced and therefore considerable investment. What’s more, the cars are often incomplete and not in their original state.

The transport cost, which includes any applicable customs duty and VAT, means that buying in remoter locations pays off mainly for rare design versions, cars maintained in exceptional condition or cars with an interesting history.

The TREKKA, the New Zealand-made predecessor of modern SUVs based on ŠKODA OCTAVIA SUPER technology, was not exported to Europe, but because of its uniqueness and Czech roots the TREKKA has enriched at least seven Czech collections in the last three years, including the ŠKODA MUSEUM collection.   

Demand like a roller-coaster ride

Can you already picture yourself polishing some magnificent historic specimen in your garage? Let’s come back down to earth. A complete, professional renovation of a historic vehicle involves an investment of several thousand euros. If we add to that the cost of buying the vehicle in its pre-renovation condition, the costs rise above the car’s realistic market value.

Conserving and garaging the vehicle should not be taken lightly either. Ideally, it should be kept in an air-conditioned space with constant humidity and appropriate security protection, not to mention insurance against theft.

Renovation of ŠKODA FAVORIT 

As Michal Velebný points out, the market prices of recent veterans, such as thirty-year-old ŠKODA FAVORIT models, fluctuate wildly. “All it takes is for a particular model series to be celebrating a round-number anniversary or for the media to cover a specific car being offered at an unprecedentedly high price, and there is a sudden surge in demand. The demand among buyers can then collapse just as quickly,” Michal Velebný says. Over the past three years, the prices of RAPID or FAVORIT cars have resembled a roller-coaster ride.

Petr Ort sums up veterans’ overall investment potential as follows: “There is an objective expectation of constant price growth in the medium to long term, guaranteed to be greater than the value of shares or bonds. What’s more, with securities all you have to show for them is a number in an electronic account. But a historic car is also a source of considerable joy, and not just when you drive it through the countryside.”