The Skoda name can be traced back to an Austro – Hungarian, based in what is now the Czech Republic, arms manufacturer established in 1859, the story of their involvement in the automotive dates back to 1924.
In 1895 after a disappointingly arrogant correspondence with German cycle manufacturer Seidel and Naumann, regarding the repair of his bicycle, the Czech bookseller Václav Klement opened a cycle repair shop in Mladá Boleslav now in the Czech Republic in partnership with apprenticed locksmith Václav Laurin who had established a bicycle manufacturing business in Turnov a year earlier.
By 1899 the Klement – Laurin had developed the Slavia motorcycle which they started exporting the following year, by 1905 they had started manufacturing 4 wheeled motor vehicles. In 1924 Klement – Laurin which by now had further diversified into trucks was taken over by Skoda.
The Skoda Estelle 130 was introduced in 1984 as a replacement to the 120 and earlier 105 models which dated back to the 1970’s and 1960’s respectively.
Three 130 models were originally available in the UK when the 130 series was launched here in March 1985. The 130 L and LSE 4 door models and a 2 door Rapid Coupé for which there was also an aftermarket Cabriolet conversion.
The dated engineering led to the handling of the rear engined 58 hp 130 L being variously described as wayward, fun and even ‘like a Porsche’ meaning tail happy as ably demonstrated here at Oulton Park last year.
Despite disparaging jokes like ‘Why does a Skoda have a heated rear screen ? To keep your hands warm when you push’ the Skoda team managed 17 class wins on the RAC Rally from the 1970’s into the 1970’s. I was not able to find out who the driver of the 1985 replica Group A model above is, one wag suggested that he had so much trouble keeping in on the road he might not want to be identified.
In 1986 Skoda (GB) Ltd entered the Estelle 130 L above for Bill Taylor, Andrew Woolley, Jeff Williams, Bill Hunt in the Willhire 24 hour production car race it ran absolutely faultlessly, from memory stopping only for routine driver changes and fuel, to finish fourth in class D, many laps behind the highly fancied and more powerful and Vauxhall Nova’s.
Thanks for joining me in this ‘Surprising Sunday Spin’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !