Once a motoring joke because of their poor quality and cheap prices, Škodas have enjoyed a major metamorphosis in recent years under the ownership of Volkswagen. Formed in 1924 in Czechoslovakia, the firm's pre-war cars proved popular and sold well - and were among the best cars built in Europe at the time.
After WW2, Škoda found itself behind the Iron Curtain, which meant it concentrated on low-cost machines. During the 1960s, it moved over to building quirky rear-engined cars based in the Renault Dauphine – at a time when many others were abandoning the layout – and continued for the next quarter of a century. VW took control in 1990, and revamped the range; Škoda today is a high-quality budget brand with a much-improved image.