It’s 25 years ago since Skoda and Volkswagen shook hands and made Skoda a Volkswagen subsidiary. The agreement took place on March 28th, 1991, and on April 16th, Volkswagen took ownership of 30% of Skoda’s shares. In Dec 1994, VW took majority of Skoda’s shares with 60,3% in their pocket, and grew that to 70% a year later. It is frankly amazing that in roughly five years from putting pen to paper, Skoda and VW produced the 1U body Skoda Octavia. The first one rolled off the production line on April 3th, 1996.
While the Felicia hatchback was still obviously a development of the sharper-edged Favorit and the later, Polo-based Fabia still used the old pushrod engines dating back to the Gutenberg printing machine, the Octavia was a completely fresh design from the ground up, working as a testbed of sorts for the upcoming fourth generation Golf, yet managing to do some things better with less. If Skoda today can be seen as an extremely successful player on multiple markets, it all started with the humble-but-worthy 1996 Octavia, which lived a long and prosperous life.