The Skoda Octavia is a car we associate with sensible attributes. Even the hotter vRS models represent a very prudent purchase. This is not a car you expect to charge down some salt flats and grab a land speed record, and yet 10 years ago, an Octavia did just that, clocking an incredible average of 227.08mph over two runs.
The record broken at Bonneville was for 2.0-litre, forced induction production cars. To comply with the rules, the engine internals had to remain the same. They had the task of coping with around 600bhp thanks to the addition of a huge Garrett GT3562R turbocharger and an updated injection system featuring eight fuel injectors.
A longer ratio gearbox for the diesel Octavia Greenline was added, as were skinny wheels with fast-rolling Goodyear tyres. At the front, the brakes were conspicuously absent - a parachute took care of scrubbing off speed at the end of the run. Keeping things cool meanwhile was a 10-litre radiator.
With motoring journalist Richard Meaden of evo magazine at the wheel, the Octavia was taken to 225.513mph on 18 August 2011, hitting 228.647mph on a return run on the 19th. This gave the 227mph average and a record that still stands today. Not bad going considering the original plan was only to breach the 200mph barrier, not go hunting for records.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this achievement, Skoda has restored the car to its original Bonneville spec. Well, nearly - it’s now running on normal alloy wheels with road tyres, and the front brakes have (thankfully) returned.
It still has an enormously potent 2.0-litre engine, though, as well as an almost complete lack of an interior. And despite the reintroduction of conventional brakes, even the parachute is present and correct!