Once upon a time, Skoda had a thing for sports car racing. You might well have seen the company parade around its open-topped 1100 OHC racer before, a car Car Throttle had the chance to drive a few years ago. What you might not realise is that car had a tin-top brother.
While two of the three spiders have had a relatively easy life and are owned by Skoda, the two coupes had a much harder time. The rise of the Cold War limited competition within Czechoslovakia, and even that didn’t last long, with technical changes to local championships making its 1100cc inline-four obsolete. With no use for them, Skoda sold both cars into private ownership.
Each had a chequered history that followed involving several crashes and hill climb use, all while straying ever further from the original spec. One ended up with an engine from a Felicia, the other from an Octavia.
Many decades on, Skoda figured it should rectify this. Over the last few years, it’s been busy working away on one of the coupes to bring it back to its former glory. The Skoda Museum’s restoration workshop collaborated with the company’s prototype construction centre, starting with only the original chassis.
Thankfully, the Skoda Archive contains all of the old technical documents and drawings, and there were lessons learned from the restoration of the open to lean on. At the end of 2015, the project was making headway, with a refurbished chassis treated to a brand new radiator and fuel tank among other parts.
Accurately reproducing the bodywork was an enormously complex task, involving the scanning of drawings, the studying of old photographs, and creating a 3D model using CAD. “Checking and correcting the shapes of individual elements, such as the rear lights, took dozens of hours,” Skoda says. The panels are made from 0.8 - 1.0mm thick aluminium sheets, beaten into shape and riveted by hand the old-school way.
All that hard work was worth it - the results are incredible. Mechanically, it’s as per the open version, meaning 92bhp from that 1100cc engine. Mounted behind the front axle, the powerplant develops 92bhp at 7700rpm and will keep going until 8500. Decent innings back then, and the little inline-four makes for impressive performance even in a modern context. At 555kg, the power to weight ratio is similar to something like a Ford Fiesta ST.
Hopefully Skoda will be just as keen to get this 1100 out in the open.