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Czechoslovakian Cars Living and Dying in Poland

Kamil Kaluski April 2, 2014 Eastern European Cars, Featured 24 Comments

feature czech cars

Czechoslovakia is often overlooked in the WW2 conflict mostly due to its size. The location of this land-locked nation did not help things, with German controlled land on three sides. Before the war even began Germany easily annexed the western part of the country due to its large German population and appeasing attitudes of other western nations toward Germany. The country itself had a lot of problems with ethnic division and an unstable government, which itself operated in exile in London during the war.

Things did not get better after the war, when the communist party took over. Like other eastern European nations, Czechoslovakia was virtually cut off from the rest of the world and became controlled by the USSR. In that time the country underwent a lot of anti-communist events and has been historically labeled as one of the more progressive Eastern European countries. In 1989 the Communist regime started to be overturned. Finally, on January 1st, 1993, the country peacefully split into Czech and Slovak Republics.

Before and post war, and throughout the communist time, Czechoslovakia was an industrial nation and was always building cars. Tatra became the third automotive manufactured in the world and it still produces trucks. Skoda started producing guns and motorcycles decades before they made their first car in 1905. During the war almost all manufacturing facilities were ran by the Germans, producing equipment for the Axis forces.

Like with others in this series, we will focus on post WW2 Czechoslovakian cars that are currently living and dying on the streets on Poland, all thanks to the readers of the Polish website zlomnik.pl. Be sure to check out the rest of the series: West German cars, East German Cars, Japanese cars, Italian cars, ‘Murican Cars, and French Cars all living and dying in Poland.

SONY DSC

Skoda 105 or 110, I am not sure.

avia

 Avia, predominantly an aircraft company, started manufacturing trucks after the war. Today it is a global truck and bus company.

This is a 1970s/1980s A20 model.

fnd18_zps8573108b

1980s or 1990s models.

fnd32_zpsd69ffe9c

Skoda 130, I think, judging by the taillights. They were all kind of similar looking.

Front hood opened on the side, like a piano. The engine was in the rear, a move supposedly directed by the Russians to make the vehicle less competitive with the Lada.

lat21_zps948781b8

Tatra hi-rail truck.

skoda 110 (1)

Skoda 105. All rear-engined Skodas had swing axle rear suspensions, like certain amazing racecars.

skoda 110 (2)

I think those are donation boxes.

skoda 110 (3)

I’m pretty sure that this is a Skoda 100.

skoda 110 (4)

The one on the right is a Skoda Octavia. An Octavia coupe was my father’s first car. He told me that the front and rear windows are exactly the same, which kept costs low and came in handy when the front one broke and replacement was not easily obtained. Such as the time when he rolled his Octavia. Damn hoon!

skoda 110 (5)

skoda 110 (6)

Blacked-out chrome trim, for that modern look.

skoda 110 (7)

Skoda 120 (1)

All original, mint condition, ran when parked.

Skoda 120 (2)

cla15_zpsf678e685

Skoda 120 (3)

Skoda 120 (4)

skoda 130 (1)

skoda 130 (2)

skoda 130 (4)

Wut?

Note the rear foglights, this maybe one of the last ones made.

Skoda coupe (2)

Skoda Garde coupe, later known as Rapid.

Skoda coupe (3)

I think that’s a fuel tank door next to the headlight. I don’t know why the one above does not have it.

Skoda coupe (1)

Engine performance was upgraded in later models dropping the 0-62mph (0-100kph) time to under 15 seconds.

Yes… an improvement, and yes, you read that right, 0-60mph in under 15 seconds.

Skoda coupe (4)

I don’t think I have ever seen one in person.

skoda octavia (1)

Octavia wagon. Looks a little Nomad-ish, no?

Pic may have been taken outside of Poland.

skoda octavia (2)

My father’s first car was this, in white.

skoda octavia (3)

Tatra (1)

Tatra T900 700, produced until 1999, powered by an air-cooled rear-mounted OHC V8. Some say that Tatras were Eastern Bloc’s most luxuries vehicles, or at least best made.

Tatra (2)

Tatra truck

Tatra truck, I think/hope.

Tatra began truck production before 1900. During the war, like all other manufacturing, it produced equipment for Germany. After the war it began producing what has come to known as the best Eastern European trucks, with wide military use.

In a testament to their excellence, Tatra trucks have won the grueling Dakar rally six times.

The company still makes trucks but its future is uncertain.

  • Sjalabais

    Nice collection, again. The 110s seem to be pretty plentiful and cheap still. Fun cars making proper noise.

  • HSA❄

    A moment ago I haven't heard of the Tatra T900, and now I want one. This is a dangerous site.

    • tonyola

      Car and Driver magazine drove a T900 in the late '90s and they judged the handling as being really scary – early 911-scary with a skittish rear end and lots of unexpected oversteer.

      • HSA❄

        I take that for granted for almost any rear-engined V8.

      • I don't see how this would be a demerit.

      • Jay_Ramey

        Relatively little diff in handling between the 613 Chromka and the T700s, though larger wheels and low profile tires sorted it a little. But C&D, like come on, it's not meant for doing stuff they were making it do (I wanna see this article now)

        Kamil, this T700 made my day. That HAS to be one of the last ones made, period.

    • marmer01

      Tatra T-700, not T-900, right?

  • tonyola

    Skoda actually tried selling cars in the USA in the late 1950s. Here's a vintage 1959 ad…
    <img src="http://www.spartaky.cz/obrazky/clanky_pic/US_skoda_440_1959.jpg&quot; width="600">

    • Sjalabais

      Wonder how that turned out for the possible few who dared.

      • Jay_Ramey

        Skodas sold in Canada well into the 80s, if memory serves

        /Capt Obvious

      • faberferrum

        Very poorly! Here's a site with some of the hate mail directed at the improbably named Willy Witkin, the main importer of Skodas and Wartburgs. http://www.wartburgusa.com/hate/picture.php?p=1
        The site is pretty interesting, it seems he was advertising Wartburgs in Playboy.

        • Sjalabais

          This is a great little side! Thanks!

  • Kris_01

    I miss my old 84 Skoda 120. One of the Canadian cars. And not all the rear engined cars had swing axles – the 135 and post 86 5 speed cars had a different setup. The 135 Rapid was called the "poor man's 911" due to the improved handling, but the rally cars were 4 door sedans because of the stiffer body.

  • Perc

    The Swedish motoring show Trafikmagasinet managed to roll a late 70's Skoda, much like they did two decades later with the W168 Mercedes A-class.

    Speaking of Canadian cars, Finland got a handful of them too for some reason. As far as I can recall, they had a catalytic converter and Bosch fuel injection as well as a few bits of equipment that we never got otherwise.

    Wonder what the market would have been like if Czechoslovakia and Škoda hadn't been trapped behind the iron curtain. Maybe they would've ended up buying VW and turned it into their entry level brand, instead of the other way around?

    • Goodwin

      "Wonder what the market would have been like if Czechoslovakia and Škoda hadn't been trapped behind the iron curtain. Maybe they would've ended up buying VW and turned it into their entry level brand, instead of the other way around?"

      Or it could have vanished, just like some of the german car/truck/motorcycle brands.

  • Goodwin

    The car in the first and sixth foto is a Skoda MB1000. My favourite Skoda.

  • Van_Sarockin

    Wonderful collection, once again. I, too, love it when my vehicle is made out of spare parts. So long as no one else gets to them before i do.

  • Rover1

    Somewhere in England is a racing car made up of a Skoda with a midmounted Rover V8 and semi stock appearance. It won it's class ten years in a row.
    <img src="http://www.simonlewis.com/motorsport/SpecialGT-title1.jpg"width="450"&gt;

    • Sjalabais

      I smell a full Hooniverse post spiced with delicious weirdness.

  • Synchromesh

    The 100-series cars are awesome. I saw several in Poland when I visited 3 years back and loved them. The yellow sedan is gorgeous! I saw one of those rear-engined Skodas in orange near St. Petersburg, Russia last year. My uncle who is actually a car mechanic didn't know it was rear-engined! These cars were never imported into Soviet Union much like Tatras.

    The Lada competitiveness is a bit of a myth. When first rear-engined Skodas were born in the early 60s Lada wasn't even a Fiat 124 yet. So unless you're talking about Moskvitch it's very unlikely. Plus, Soviet car manufacturers never had any issues selling cars in that era. They had much more of an issue meeting up the demand.

    • mseoul

      I was thinking the same thing about the rear engine designated by the Soviets being a myth. In fact there was a whole law suit of Tatra and some others sue Porsche with a claim that the VW design, especially rear suspension, was derivative of their designs.

      Something else for Poland spotters in that T-700 pic: isn't that a classic Communist era "Społem" sign in the background? .

      • faberferrum

        From what I've heard, it was more a matter of the Soviets refusing to grant research and development money, forcing Skoda to continue on with basically the same rear-engined platform they'd had in the 50's/60's.

      • Good eye, my friend, sure looks that way.