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Nine of the best classic Skodas

This year, Czech car maker Skoda celebrates its 120th birthday. It’s come a long way since its beginnings in 1895. Back then, its first production model used two wheels rather than four. It wasn’t called Skoda, either. The story starts when two cycling fanatics got together to make and sell bikes. Mechanic Vaclav Laurin and bookseller Vaclav Klement sold their two wheel offerings under the name Slavia. The bikes sold so well that by 1899 they were knocking out motorbikes under the name Laurin & Klement.

The pair’s first car, called the Voiturette A, arrived in the early 1900s. The outbreak of war in 1914 meant the company swapped motors for munitions. In the face of tough economic conditions in Czechoslovakia, the pair needed help from a strong industrial partner. That help came from engineering firm Pizen Skodovka and the subsequent merger in 1925 created Skoda.

After some success, challenging political and economical conditions meant the future of the company was uncertain. By the 1980s its cars were out of date and largely out of favour. But with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a new free market economy arrived and Skoda was once again able to look for a strong partner. A joint venture with Volkswagen followed in 1990 and the rest, as they say, is history.

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1958 Skoda 110 OHC Spider (1957-60)

Just three of these racers were built by Skoda and, quite honestly, it’s a mystery how this one ended up in the UK. Even more incredibly, this is the only restored and running of the three racers. Still, we’re thankful that it’s here… if only so we can hear the glorious noise from its heavily tuned 1098cc OHC. With 92bhp available at 7700rpm, Czech designer Frantisek Sajdl originally conceived it to compete in the Mille Miglia as part of Skoda’s racing programme. It never made it to Italy, but it was successful closer to home with a one-two finish in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) in 1962.


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