Is our profound and deep love of Škodas starting to weird you out a bit? Do you find reading about the Škoda Felicia Fun to be, actually, not that much fun? Too bad. We’re talking about everyone’s favorite Czech automaker. Specifically, we’re talking about the Octavia Estate, which turns 25 years old this week.
Škoda is actually one of Europe’s oldest automakers, with a lineage that goes back 127 years to when Václav Laurin and Václav Klement (Czech men are only allowed to be named Václav, see: Václav Havel) founded a bicycle company. Like most bike-makers of the time, the brand shifted into cars and became the cool car to have if you were in the Austria-Hungarian empire. Unfortunately for the company, the empire didn’t last long and the automaker (rebranded Škoda) ended up on the wrong side of WWI and the Soviet side of WWII.
The brand persisted and made this:
Technically, the first Octavia wagon dates back to 1961, and was in production until 1974. The lovely one above is a 1964 model.
Škoda continued making cars and buses of its own design until 1992, when the Volkswagen Group acquired the Czech automaker. The first new cars for the VW-owned company were the Polo-sized Fabia and the Octavia, which shares the same A4 platform as the Mk 4 Golf and Audi A3. The “first” generation Octavia still looks great, offering up the crisp lines and shield-like grille that still define the brand. It debuted on March 3rd at the 1998 Geneva International Motor Show, which is why Škoda sent out pics of all the generations today.
The design was created under the guidance of designer Dirk van Braeckel, with some of the work done by Luc Donckerwolke, who went on to pen all the good cars.
Here’s the second generation. Still handsome!
I’m partial to the third generation, actually:
The 4th Gen is pretty good, too.
In all, the brand has sold 2.8 million copies of this wagon, primarily in Europe. If you’re in the Czech Republic you can drive over to the Škoda Museum and see an exhibit on the cars.
All photos: Škoda
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I had a first-gen (modern) Octavia estate. It was officially a company car, but it was ordered to my specification. It was a great car, comfortable, roomy (not so much in the back seat but that was almost never used) und drove well. Only thing, it was kind of thirsty. Which wasn’t my problem — company car.
That first gen Octavia was very pretty. That would be my daily driver choice.
There was a time, in the mid 80s, when my family owned not one, but two first-gen Octavias wagons. What time to be alive!
The 3gen pre-facelifted (facelifted version in the picture) Octavia Scout 4×4 is still peak Octavia.
That thing is downright sexy.
I would say the vRS TSi 3rd gen wagon would be peak Octavia, but then I’m biased, because I have one; near-perfect combination of practicality & a bit of extra get up & go (it has a Golf GTI motor, for those of you deprived souls in the US).
I must say I think the 4th gens look even better, unlike the facelifted 3…
I dont think that 3rd gen scout is facelifted, it doesn’t have the (awful) split headlamps of the facelift.
After getting used to, they are not even that awful. Reminds me of a pre facelift W212 Merc.
I saw them in a garage down in old Mlada
Where you drink pilsners and it tastes just like
I walked up to it and I asked for a drive
I asked it its name and in a dark plastic badge it said, “Škoda”
Š-K-O-D-A Škoda, Shko shko shko shko Škoda
Nicely done there, Duke. Not even mad about the earworm: worth it
I still don’t believe that you truly love Skoda. Why are you doing Mercury Mondays instead of Skoda Saturdays? (These would, of course, be published on Tuesdays in honor of Mercury Mondays’ legendary calendarial half-assery)
They could just bundle all the Mercury content up in one month for “Mercury March” or “Mercury May”. Either way, it won’t actually be published til maybe early August.
You just gonna throw our taillight high priest under a passing rotary powered Mazda bus like that?
Honestly after reading the cold start this morning it would amaze me if he knew what day or even year it was most of the time.
The only one that looks pretty cool is the first one. The rest are sorta…. meh.
You beat me to it: I want that red ‘64.
But it definitely gives me the vibe that you’d have to have an interesting hat to drive it. Maybe a cravat, too. Possibly spats.
It’s giving TourX/Insignia in that newest generation and I love it.
I like Škoda, but my favourite Czech automaker has to be Tatra, and I’m very surprised to realise that I have a second place favourite Czech automaker!
This is also Jason’s favorite Czech automaker.
When I started traveling to the UK for work, the guys there knew I was a car guy and made a lot of Skoda jokes assuming I would get them. They didn’t realize that we don’t get Skodas in the US (this was about 2001, and when I sent and email to the UK office, I often got a faxed reply… they may not have been all-in on the internet).
The one I remember:
Q: Why do Skodas have rear defrosters?
A: To keep your hands warm. (Implying you’d be pushing it)
The same joke played out in the US, just with “Yugo” in place of “Skoda”
“. . . offering up the crips lines and shield-like grille. . .”
I dunno, Matt. That car looks pretty red to me.
damn got me
I’ve ridden in one, a taxicab from the airport to our hotel in Dublin. Seemed like a decent car, but all I honestly remember is that it was a diesel and smelled like cigarette smoke inside (the driver smoked the whole way, mercifully with the window down).
IIRC a few years back VW Group US trademarked all the Skoda model names, perhaps planning on bringing them in as a low priced line? And in defense of Skoda, friends in markets where they’re sold tell me they’re every bit as good as their VW cousins for a much lower price.
These days, being “just as good as a VW” is faint praise.
My mon had a work supplied car what was “first” generation Octavia, it was 1.9TD, manual and a lot of fun to drive.
I remember beng a wagon and being on the gols platform the muffler would end and point down way before the car bumper in fact closer to the middle of the trunk LOL
I thought the first gen Octavia stopped in 1971? 1000 MB with Rear wheel drive and rear engine was interesting.
Śkoda Saturdays are all well and good but the world really needs Tatra Tuesdays!
I got to drive a “first” generation Octavia TDI MT through France on my honeymoon. We picked it up in Paris to head out to the Loire valley so my very first experience driving in France was being thrown into the deep end of Parisian traffic. We found ourselves on the ring, going the wrong way around the city (this was pre-SatNav) until we finally figured out where we were on the map. We ended up on a surface street on the far side of the city stuck behind a road rage fistfight. Welcome to France! We then made our way to Chatres with its AMAZING cathedral and got a tour from Malcom Miller himself.
Then we got lost again, and again, and again. French surface streets and directions are very different than the ones in California. Everything is in FRENCH! Sacre Bleu! By the time we had even a vague idea where we were we were somewhere else. I really wish SatNav had been a thing back then 🙁
Eventually we stumbled our way into the Loire. At Angers I took a wrong turn and the town went all medieval on me. Nothing but narrow cobblestoned streets and high, rough stone walls all over. The car was amazing! I was able to maneuver it through those streets without a single scratch! Not bad for a large wagon. The car was also very comfortable cruising the 130 kph Autoroutes of the French countryside. Fantastic fuel economy too, especially compared to my XJ.
It made me love the Skoda TDI and I’d have bought its closest equivalent, a Passat wagon TDI back in the states in a heartbeat except the prices on those got really stupid high and I am a Cheap Bastard.
I see them all the time when I go back home to Barcelona, and they look great. They sell a PHEV now, too, and their big brother is called Superb and has the most legspace I’ve seen on a car (short of an S-Class or any long-wheelbase versions of competing luxury sedans).
The second generation “Octavia Combi” is rather handsome, in a Volvo sort of way. It would be nice to see what they were up to in the late 60’s and during the ’70s.
I can smell the picture of that interior lol