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The 130 RS turns 40

The 130 RS turns 40
40 years young: the ŠKODA 130 RS in rally and circuit versions. (Photo: ŠKODA AUTO a.s.)

It was a legendary racing vehicle in 1970s and ’80s. We look at the achievements of the ŠKODA 130 RS in its 40-year history.

It was dubbed “the Porsche of the East” and was one of the best racing cars of its era. In fact the ŠKODA 130 RS has a string of titles to its name, including winner of the 1981 European Touring Car Championship and a double victory in its class in the 1977 Monte Carlo Rally.

ŠKODA’s proud racing history stretches back more than a century, and the 130 RS is an outstanding example of what the car manufacturer can achieve. “The 130 RS continues to shape the ŠKODA brand’s good reputation in motorsport to this day,” says Michal Velebný, Coordinator of the ŠKODA Museum restoration workshop. “Getting this racing car onto the track in then Communist Czechoslovakia was no mean feat, demonstrating the technical skill and commitment of ŠKODA’s development team and engineers of that time.”

The RS stands for Rally Sport and the 130 RS followed hard on the heels of the 180 RS and 200 RS vehicles that preceded it but could no longer meet regulatory requirements. The 130 RS was a pared-down lightweight machine, with aluminium panels and some parts of the bodywork made of fibreglass and plastic, allowing it to weigh in at just 720 kilograms.

With a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with OHV valve control, the 140-horsepower engine could take the car to 220 km/h. Its inventive and modern engine technology showed itself in the results. In the 1975 racing season in Czechoslovakia it took first, second and third place in the overall rankings.

That success spilt out on to the international stage with class victories in Monte Carlo and the Sweden Rally. The 130 RS established the “RS” initials as synonymous with speed. This continues with other models to this day – for example, with the Octavia RS, a sports-tuned version of the familiar car.