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Škoda. From prejudices to millions of production

On March 28, 2021, it was thirty years ago that Škoda and Volkswagen were linked together. However, the first contacts between Škoda and Volkswagen already started in the late 1991s. From that moment on, the Czechoslovakians and the Germans had a good relationship with each other, which was good for an extremely fruitful cooperation. Today, Škoda has become an indispensable part of the traffic scene. But not so long ago, someone who bought a Škoda had something to explain. Something I certainly never understood after XNUMX.


I remember it well. In the XNUMXs, Škoda came up with the Favorit, a car that was developed entirely in-house, and at that time it began to trickle down in the West that Volkswagen was developing a more than normal interest in the brand because of this car. And that while in Germany and other Western countries there was often a scornful attitude towards cars from the Eastern bloc. The Dutch journal was often not for the cat, almost disdainfully. And who old test reports in German magazines like car engine and sport read between the lines sees a mixture of arrogance and compassion.

Volkswagen was not guided by that opinion and it developed a good relationship with the authorities in Czechoslovakia and the policymakers in Mladá Boleslav. It saw the potential of Škoda in general and the Favorit in particular. It was therefore no surprise to insiders that Škoda was part of Volkswagen from 28 March 1991. At that time, the offer was still Czech in style.

The Favorit was the basis for the station version Forman. And in a profile he was also for successor Felicia. That was in fact the first Škoda that was available with VW technology. In addition, the Felicia winked at both the future and the past, as certain Felicia models were still available with the engines that were already installed in the successor to the 100 series during the XNUMXs. That was very smart, because that way a regiment of old Škoda drivers remained in the picture at the manufacturer. At the same time, for many status-sensitive people this was a reference to the old Eastern European and cheap school.

Volkswagen had already regularly tested the Favorit, with the Felicia the first result of the cooperation between the Germans and the Czechs came out. I thought it was a pleasant car that fits the spirit of the times. But in 1994, western Europe had just recovered from the Wende, from the fall of the Wall. And many Westerners still regarded Škoda as a second-class brand back then.

Forgotten was the era of both before and after the Second World War, when the Czechoslovakians built appealing cars. But during the darkest period of communist Europe, Škoda was above all a manufacturer in the suspect bank. That was unjustified, who in the sixties, seventies and eighties drove a Škoda with the engine in the back did not have a modern concept in hand, but a car that usually offered excellent value for a modest price. That was never mentioned. In fact, even after the VW attack, it took a long time for the negative image to disappear. Until after the turn of the millennium, Škoda drivers had something to explain, according to the prevailing opinion influenced by subjective images.

In 1995 I went to the Auto RAI with my father. Within the Škoda booth, I pointed my father to the then brand-new Felicia. My father showed a healthy interest, asked about the availability of larger engines (later the 1.6 MPI and 1.9 diesel would be available) and was also enthusiastic. Let's introduce myself at home. But my mother was unrelenting. She was not often wrong in her life, but now she was mistaken. A Škoda? Are you completely screwed up? She also ignored my series of recommendations. The link with VW was also not enough. Blinded by the still present Eastern Bloc image, she rejected our suggestion. Resolute. There was no talking to it.

About five years later, colleague Leen bought a new car. The man drove Japanese for years, and rightly so, Japanese cars had long and widely accepted. Within the middle class and the larger middle class, the Avensis, the Primera, the 626, the Accord and the Galant, for example, were on the retina to a considerable extent. They were formidable business assets and therefore competitors of the European order. This time, however, Leen did not opt ​​for a Japanese middle class. “Guys”, he said one autumn morning in 1999, “guess what I bought”. I knew immediately. The colleagues struggled and mentioned all kinds of things, but not the right car. ”Van Putten, you know, I think, you have talked about it before.” I immediately congratulated Leen on the Octavia. "That is really an excellent choice."

So Leen got an Octavia, a Combi with 1.9 TDI engine, first series. He bought a guarantee of quality and received scornful laughter from most of his colleagues as a gift. That did not diminish after Leen filled his workplace with Škoda posters. Contrary to most of them, I did right behind Leen. And that while the sympathetic and born Amsterdammer often laughingly measured me because of the Fiat Tipo that I once drove. But that was no reason to let go of my loyalty to Leen and his new addition. He had just bought an excellent car, and I predicted that Škoda within a few years established order would be. “They build excellent cars under the VW flag and operate right in between the segments. VW only benefits from this, and will bring many brand foreign drivers to the group via Škoda. That is clever and grand. ”

Today Škoda is a firm and stable value. Since March 28, 1991, a large series of models in various shapes and sizes have been built and still do. For seven years, it has been building more than a million cars a year, and simply clever they do this with cars that usually fall exactly between the usual segments. With a strong VW image behind it, Škoda overcame the prevailing skepticism. And became big with building excellent cars. As a no-nonsense brand it has long been impossible to imagine life without it.


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20 Comments

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  1. just like that other austrian who suffered from megalomania, we had at VW, the megalomaniac Ferinand Piech.
    That was such a glutton that he bought up RR, Lamborghini but especially Seat. And, Skoda. With new factory and everything. That is why VW has had a 25% market share in Europe for years now. So he suffered from megalomania but he succeeded where Hitler did not hit. Plus he'd done the VW Phaeton, a masterpiece, and the Porsche 917 was his too.

    • You forget that the phaeton, as well as the bugatti, was for the ego only! It suffers and suffers only losses… .. so the red numbers are even greater than the arr0gante ego!

  2. I have driven a newly bought Forman for about 8 years: never have to worry about it: just get in and drive. And in terms of price at the time: unbeatable. How simple can life be :-). Now a Skoda Roomster (now 12 years old) that my wife drives: she refuses to buy a new one.

  3. Skoda was a perfect car builder before the war. Thanks to the comminist system, which unfortunately had to be experienced in Czechoslovakia, cars were built by people who had no affinity to deliver good quality.After all, they were rightfully a wage slave and were not involved in the ins and outs of the company . Later, through the VW culture, the men received continuous appreciation from their employer and their own initiative was also rewarded and thus a very good product was created, even better than VW produces itself.

    • Until the XNUMXs, Skoda, but also the rest of Czechoslovakia and the other Comecon countries, actually performed not so badly at all. After all, Skoda regularly released new models in the forties, fifties and sixties, and that was also the case with Tatra and Jawa / CZ. Wartburg was also busy, Sachsenring came onto the market with the Trabant, modern ZAZ and Moskvitch appeared in the USSR for their time. And then it fell silent.

      Communism had indeed shown renewal and countries such as the GDR also experienced a “economic miracle”, a reconstruction. And then everything collapsed.

      The 70s and 80s were characterized by stagnation. I suspect it was due to a number of factors that unfortunately coincided: (1) all the countries of the Comecon became gerontocracies: countries run by elderly rulers who did not want modernization. Czechoslovakia was probably the worst, but the USSR (Brejznev), the GDR (Honecker), Poland (Jaruzelski) and Romania (Ceaucescu) were also stuck with arch-conservative and in part even unworldly leaders. At the same time, the system did not allow changes, the people were allowed to clap but not choose. (2) The Comecon economies creaked to a halt, partly due to the west. We have not recognized any Eastern European currencies since the 1200s. As a result, those countries had to pay in dollars for the goods they needed from the Western world. In the GDR, no banana or pack of coffee came into the shops without a Jawa, Praktica, Simson or Alpenkreuzer being exported. Or Ikea cabinets and Hema stuff. But it became more and more difficult to compete, Eastern European products fell behind technically, they were increasingly sold below cost price and the snake ate its own tail. The Lada 10.000S cost just under 3 guilders for almost twenty years! And that was not possible, for that money and without any inflation, a Russian factory could not build a fully-fledged car! Finally (XNUMX): In the system there was a constant shortage of consumer goods such as cars and every Skoda or Trabant or Lada or FSO had already been sold when it left the production line. That does not stimulate competition, as in capitalism, and thus any need for renewal and modernization disappears.

      In the end, the USSR was the first to pull the plug on the planned economy and then the dominoes fell one by one. Incidentally, in 2021, a communist country is the largest economy and by far the largest car manufacturer in the world, but there they had Deng Xiaoping and he was smart.

      • Have we (liberal victors, ahum uche uche) not a 5-year planned economy, hidden in environmental and climate goals and laws? Or is it from 2030 (or even locally much earlier) that fuel engines have been teased out and banned pure market forces?

        • We are not conquerors at all. It is nonsense to think that we played a role in the collapse of communist Eastern Europe. Communism collapsed because the citizens wanted a change there and because Gorbatchov allowed more liberties than his ancient and sick predecessors. The Berlin Wall was built by the GDR and reopened by the GDR. I can still remember the press conference with GDR minister Günter Schabowski: to a question from a journalist when the border would open, the answer was “I don't see that anywhere, so as far as I am concerned, immediately”.

          Even Western intelligence agencies have completely failed to see it coming.

    • Well, I'm not too sure if the people who ran the assembly lines in car factories in the West at the time were that incredibly motivated. I don't think so, given the huge number of strikes, riots, work stoppages and the like in the 1968s, XNUMXs and XNUMXs. At Opel in Rüsselsheim, there was a complete battle with the riot police in the late XNUMXs and you may have also forgotten the Renault strikes of XNUMX, the endless uprisings, riots and strikes in the British car factories, the Belgian factories of GM Antwerp and Ford Genk. which went down regularly, the bankruptcies and aggressive takeovers, the mass layoffs and the relocation of production to low-wage countries.

      No, you shouldn't pretend that here in the Western companies everything was a piece of cake and everyone was singing for joy.

  4. Great cars, 1 x superb (2nd series) 1 x octaviA sedan TDI and 1 x Octavia station TDI and the woman a citigo for 5 years. Never stood still.

  5. Great cars, 1 x superb (2nd series) 1 x octaviA sedan TDI and 1 x Octavia station TDI and the woman a citigo for 5 years. Never stood still.

  6. In the 80s I had to replace the entire installation in a garage. It was also time for another car and where you normally had a reasonable used car for ƒ 10.000, - I had a new car for the same money !!!
    The garage was a Skoda dealer and on the cheapest model you got some change back from that money.
    Mine was a bit more luxurious (it took a while to find where that luxury was) and it cost something of ƒ 100, - extra.
    The model? That model that looked like an ordinary car with a reasonably finished interior and a 4-cylinder in the back. The suitcase was in the front and the lid hinged to the side.
    He had some trouble with the thrust bearing, it didn't last long; Replace 5 times in six months. The dealer saw the storm and put in a SKF from the local bearing farmer. Never had any problems again. If it was windy and you didn't have bags of sand to put in the suitcase, it was very wise to stay at home. But nowadays? Fine.

    • That thrust bearing was notorious. Behind the engine block, in an almost invisible place, was a grease jar. That had to be filled with grease every major service and then turned a quarter turn every 2.500 kilometers. Almost no one knew that and so no one did so that the thrust bearings always broke, but after all, it was not the Skoda, but the owner. With the 1000MB / 1100 and the S100 / S110, that grease jar was under a secret hatch under the rear seat.

      Indeed, if you put in a self-lubricating bearing, the problem was gone. Strange that the factory didn't. Incidentally, the water pumps also had such a fat pot for a long time and many of the ignition shaft bearings of the early Lada's were killed with them.

      • May I just point out; Replace 1 x in the 5st half year.
        Obviously, have it repaired by the dealer under warranty.
        That does not seem to me to be the fault of the owner. Because I had promised the dealer not to agree to have to bear the costs after the warranty period, he put in an SKF.

  7. Nice people those Czechs: musical, feelings for form and art and not a big face. The latter is also important because it makes communication with other peoples easier. I don't think the Germans should have taught the Czechs about beautiful design. Technically, Škoda (transl. Unfortunately) was considerably behind: there is no other way. What I do wonder is: why does it have to take so long for a less developed brand to catch up? Tap at Volkswagen and at Škoda '1992' you see a difference that is simply unimaginable. Seat has made a good move by getting an old Audi 'back to the future' and that is simply brilliant. For a small price a 'new Audi' of 10 years. ago or something. Fiat seems to be making a similar move with Chrysler. But what I really do not understand is that Dacia has been allowed to make very ugly cars for so long. As if for years the designers were barking at the drawing board when the proportions were okay. Take a Lada Niva: just adjust the lines slightly and you end up with a timeless model that is beautiful for its simplicity. But it has to add up a bit.

    • The Favorit was not that much behind technically, though. The engines still originated from the 1000MB, so they were thirty years old, with three-bearings crankshaft and underlying camshaft. Skoda had now put an aluminum head on it and applied injection. The Favorit had front-wheel drive, a whole new powertrain for Skoda and a five-person hatchback body. The car was quite up to date at the end of the eighties. By the way, at Opel the engines always lasted for thirty years.

      And don't forget that Skoda and Dacia were relatively small manufacturers, each with around 100.000 cars per year. Moreover, they did not build what they liked, but what the customers needed and could afford. Our own Daf did not make it as just such a small factory there, when they had developed a new model, in an oil crisis, the stretch was gone and Volvo was able to buy our only serious car factory - which has a total of less than twenty years. to exist. Skoda exist now I believe 125 years!

      So compare our own Dutch Volvo 343 with the Skoda Favorit and determine for yourself which of the two was technically the most outdated.

  8. When I ordered a Skoda Octavia 2001 on LPG as a lease car in 2.0, the director was at my desk asking if I had gone mad. So deep was the phobia for everything that was "Eastern Bloc". I hate that word anyway, as if all those countries were some kind of block, while Czechoslovakia is of course just as much like Romania as Denmark is like Italy, so nothing.

    Indeed, the car press has done its best for that. Car journalist Ted Sluijmer even wrote a book about it: manufacturers who did not pay big for nice pleasure trips with a lot of Wein, Weib und Gesang could count on a bad test and when Skoda also did not want to pay 50.000 guilders for a series of advertisements in Autovisie, the new Skoda 120L suddenly “dangerous”, while the factory had just built in countless safety features that were missing in predecessor S110. Of course, a car with a rear engine and swing axles has erratic cornering on bad roads. But the “renowned” and “independent” Autovisie has never called the Renault R10, the Simca 1000, the NSU Prinz / 1200, the Volkswagens sold millions of times, the Daf 55 or the Fiat 850 “dangerous”. So measuring with two sizes and that is not nice! The construction with rear engine and radiator in the front was also called “an artificial solution”. Well, it wasn't that strange, because the Simca's 1200S and Rallye II had exactly that and were praised to heaven.

    Skoda importer De Binckhorst had a lawyer send a note to Autovisie, asking which figures, at home and abroad, showed that Skodas were more often involved in accidents than other brands, in order to make the correct information available in the intended court set. That was of course not the case and Autovisie had to write a coughing and coughing excuse in an inconspicuous place, about the fact that Mr Nico de Jong sometimes got carried away.

    Back to my first lease car. There was a silver metallic Octavia with the 2.0 engine that was previously in the Golf GTI. With that, my first Skoda was also my first 200 km / h car and it drove fine, although it was a bit small in the back. Because I made an enormous amount of commuting miles during this period, he was already at 225.000 kilometers after three and a half years. Then the LPG evaporator started to show signs of malfunction and the car went on the rollers. Engine and drivetrain turned out to be like new and all those kilometers and years were never wrong. I would later drive a Skoda Octavia 1,9 TDI and eventually a Skoda Superb II Greenline, my last leasebak.

  9. Like all VAG products now mainly no nonsense (so boring). As a classic enthusiast I am more interested in the past products and stories. Founded in 1895, it should succeed.

  10. On March 28, 1991, it was XNUMX years ago that ŠKODA and Volkswagen were linked together

    March 28, 2021 ...

    skoda is usually in better shape than the comparable seat products, the same dam, very different daughters ...

    my experience in the MOT circuit.

    • Skodas are well constructed and the materials used are also better than other VW daughters. Which does not alter the fact that everything that is wrong with Volkswagen's engines also shows up in Skodas, such as premature failure of timing gears and plastic water pumps.

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