Skoda, of which only one, or none

Once there was no prototype, which then remained with them forever. Like most fairy tales, this one has several characters. At first, some of them were made from famous Škoda, see 1000 MB convertible and station wagon, but there are also widely publicized and highly secret copies in the history of the brand.

Skoda 976 Source: Manufacturer

News and photos of some of the Škoda prototypes did not appear until decades after they were born.

It is not accidental, since the story was approximately the same in the countries of the Eastern Bloc. In the socialist-communist-led car industry, due to lack of development funds and modern technology, the same model was sometimes produced for decades, see DKW Wartburg’s successor, the Trabant.

Drawing P760 Source: Skoda

Poor in material resources but very rich in ideas, car factory engineers often tried the impossible and risked their careers, sometimes not only dreaming of a drawing board, but also building some models. If only because they knew that new products were necessary for the survival and competitiveness of their plant.

Unfortunately, deficit management did not quite orient the Polish, German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovak auto industry towards modernization, although the long-established Skoda had the opportunity, but they changed in vain, and the old design was preserved for a long time.

Prototype P760 Source: Skoda

While European brands have already said goodbye to the rear engine, Fiat, Renault and Volkswagen have also moved on: the engine of their models is located in the nose of the car and drives the front wheel. This layout left more space for passengers and luggage, as the power transmission was placed in the nose of the car. The advantages of this were also recognized in Skoda, so it was not the factory team that delayed the model change. The AZNP team was also aware of the demands of the time, but in the communist era, the company’s management did not make decisions about the production program and investment in development. The planned management of the industry was under the control of the relevant ministries, decisions were approved by the leadership of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.

Prototype P720 Source: Skoda

Investments were mainly grouped into armaments and heavy industry, the automotive industry received little money for development. Meanwhile, the old motorcycle was increasingly being squeezed out of foreign markets, and Czechoslovakia also needed hard currency, and this also required a competitive model in Western markets.

Since the 1000 MB introduced in 1964 was not considered modern even at the premiere, Škoda worked on several prototypes.

As part of the top-secret S720 program, several concept models and prototypes were born: in 1967, a five-door hatchback, a four-door sedan and wagon were released, and then a two-door coupe with a lower back.

In 1969, Giugiaro’s S720 four-door sedan was shaped more like a Fiat. The sporty S720 Fastback was released in 1971 based on Ford. The subcompact 900, with a wheelbase of 2.4 meters, was co-designed with the Trabant team, as was the P 603 tested in 1969, which was fitted with a Škoda 1000 MB engine in the nose, like the P760 prototype. A 1.1-liter 50-horsepower four-cylinder petrol engine drove the front wheels.

Everything remained the same: neither the P610 nor the 760 went into serial production. After unsuccessful attempts, cooperation between Czechoslovakia and the GDR was interrupted.

The fashionable S764, produced in 1977 as a two-door hatchback and a five-door station wagon, had a promising start. After rejecting dozens of prototypes, the apparatus again made a decision, since the country really did not have enough convertible currency, which could only be obtained with a competitive product in the Western market.

In the second half of 1982, Government Decree No. 282 was adopted, according to which a new Skoda was needed. The factory workers were happy about this, since the decision meant state support and money. What scared them was the timing: the prototype was supposed to be ready by June 1985, and mass production was supposed to begin in 1987. At that time, even a global company with a serious development center and its own tool production took seven to eight years. The term so shocked the staff of the company operating under the socialist system that they only started work in the spring of 1983.

A government decree called for the bodywork to be designed by an Italian studio.

Finally, the foreign partner mobilized the team. Members of the factory delegation approached several Italian companies at the Geneva International Motor Show in the first week of March, but they were unable to reach an agreement with either Giugiaro or Pininfarina. They also solicited a proposal from Chausson, a French coachbuilder who built many Renault prototypes, including the Matra and Simca Baghera sports cars, as well as the Rancho off-road station wagon, which was well ahead of the SUV era.

Finally, the director of a large Italian atelier, Filiberto Giannini, arranged a meeting with Nucio Bertone, with whom two Škoda engineers, Andrei Barczak and Piotr Hrdlichka, spoke on the second professional day of the exhibition.

In the meantime, an offer was received from Chausson, according to which they would produce a 1: 1 scale model in eight months for 22 million crowns, but in the end they signed a contract for 28 million Czech crowns with the design studio Centro Stile, led by Italian Nucio Bertone. The prototype was built between March 1983 and June 1985: a four-cylinder aluminum engine built into the nose of a fashionable five-door hatchback body drove the front wheel. After lengthy testing and fitting out of the factory, in August 1988 series production of the Favorit began, followed in 1999 by the compact successor Felicia, already equipped with VW instrumentation.

The capital and spirit of Wolfsburg has resulted in new market vehicles and attractive concept models. The classic model names were revived, but unfortunately only one Škoda Tudor coupe based on the Superb was produced in 2001. Five years later, the young Škoda Joyster became the star of the Paris Motor Show.

The VW family not only assisted in development, but also helped Škoda study the models and concepts that would be presented at prestigious car shows.

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