Skoda Estelle (1976 – 1990) Review

Skoda Estelle (1976 – 1990) At A Glance


+Rear-engined handling characteristics, if that's your bag, usefully sized front boot, still relatively cheap, despite being near-extinct

-Hard to get spares, flimsy trim, repairs likely to cost more than the car is worth, in 2011, only eight left on the road and 22 on SORN

The Škoda 105 and 120 were known as the Estelle in the UK, and for most of its production life, it was the cheapest new car available on the British car market. Like the 1000MB, the car it replaced, it was a rear-engined, rear-waheel drive three-box saloon, available with two different water-cooled engines, and varying levels of trim. The range was facelifted in 1984 with a revised front-end design incorporating flush-fit headlamps and some engine upgrades. In the UK it retained the Estelle name, although that was quietly dropped in the late-1980s in favour of the 130, 135 and 136 badges.

Skoda's original plan had been to replace the 1000MB with a conventional front-engined saloon. Budget constraints, and a lack of funding from the Soviet Union meant that the styling from the front-engined saloon was modified to accommodate the 1000MB's Renault R8-based running gear, resulting in a fairly modern, but technically backwards car. When the car was launched in the West, it came in for a barrage of criticism for its poor handling, and terminal oversteer - leading the company to hastily redesign the suspension set-up. But the end result was pleasant to drive, and probably the most interesting of all the COMECON challengers in the UK during the 1970s and '80s. Formed the basis for the brilliant 136 Rapid coupe.