Jason’s out driving the new Toyota Crown today so I’m stepping in to do Cold Start and my choice is appropriately me. If you didn’t already know, Skoda is the Czech Republic’s leading automaker (formerly Czechoslovakia’s leading automaker) and I’ve been writing about how much I love these things for years.
I’m not even sure where the joke began. Volkswagen has owned Skoda partially since the 1990s and outright since the early 2000s and has slowly transitioned the brand into another series of vehicles based on their basic platforms. They have their Polo (Fabia) and their Golf (Octavia) and on and on and on.
Maybe it started as a joke? I’m not sure. But I went to the Czech Republic and borrowed an Octavia vRS and, you know what? They are actually fantastic. It’s my sincere belief that almost every Skoda is the best looking version of any VW platform, which is probably a prove-me-wrong in the making.
But the Skoda 120? Despite its rear-mounted engine it is not at all a Volkswagen. Instead it’s a home-grown vehicle, based on the earlier Skoda 100/110 and, though much improved, not exactly a world-beating car. It may be apocryphal, but is alleged that Skoda wanted to design a new front-engine, front-wheel drive car but the Soviets wouldn’t let them because they didn’t want a non Russian country to have a more advanced car.
Still, there’s something charming about the Skoda 120. It debuted in 1976 and carried on until 1990 under various names. I saw a Skoda 125 in Budapest and I thought it looked great, having modernized some of the earlier car’s styling.
The old one still has its charm, too.
All photos Skoda via Wheelsage