Skoda Favorit Type 781 - 1987-1995

Skoda Favorit Type 781 - 1987-1995

Chris Randall marks 35 years since a modest Skoda hatchback appeared, which would be the start of much greater things for the historic car maker.


TAILGATE OLD FAVORIT

We remember an all-but-forgotten Skoda which played an important part in modern automotive history.


It’s not often that we get to celebrate an old Skoda here at CCM, but that it effectively marked a turning point in the story of the historic car maker makes it worth remembering. It would go on sale just a few years before the company founded by Václav Laurin and Václav Klement was assimilated into the Volkswagen empire, assuring its continued success and leading to the impressive models Skoda makes today.

The Favorit name had first appeared back in the 1930s, but its second incarnation was a few years in development. The company knew that change was needed, so the decision was taken in 1982 to modernise. The result was the car you see here, the first Skoda with its engine at the front and one with a design described as “state-of-the-art”. That may have been stretching things a little, but Stile Bertone had come up with a neat and inoffensive appearance while the engineering might of Porsche was called upon to assist with development of the engine and suspension, and ‘optimising interior noise’.

Its debut was the International Engineering Fair in Brno on 16 September 1987, with production at Mladá Boleslav getting under way in August the following year. When it landed in the UK its £5000 asking price made it good value when compared with the cheap and cheerful alternatives relied upon by budget-conscious motorists, and while it was never going to blow anyone’s socks off in the desirability stakes it made for a more than capable family car. Power and performance from the 1289cc engine were modest — even in 62bhp form the 0-60mph time was heading for the midteens — but nigh-on 50mpg economy pleased the more parsimonious owners, and there wasn’t a great deal wrong with the ride and handling. Dynamics weren’t exactly cutting-edge but then they didn’t need to be, and a decent showing in rallying added a bit of lustre. As for the interior, well it was as plain and simple as you might have expected. It wasn’t going to win any awards for the quality of the materials, nor the fit and finish, but the fundamentals were right and there was ample space for passengers and luggage. And anyone that required more of the latter could always opt for the estate version that made for an impressively cheap compact load-lugger.

It was in 1991 that Skoda fell into the welcoming embrace of Volkswagen, an arrangement that quickly bore fruit as the Favorit was treated to raft of quality and safety upgrades that would see it through to the end of production in 1994. Around 783,000 were made with about 50,000 of those finding homes in the UK, and for a car that marked the beginning of Skoda’s modern day fortunes it was an impressive showing. Naturally, a combination of a jokeladen image that was hard to shake off, bargain prices and the rough and tumble of family use ensured that not many of them survived. Only around 85 examples are still on UK roads although it appears that almost 400 are tucked away on SORN, and if you are tempted to indulge in this piece of Skoda history you might be in for a wait.

They aren’t exactly common in the classifieds, although a little while ago one was on offer for the slightly eye-watering sum of £4500. A 1994 model that had covered just 29k miles in the hands of two owners, even its immaculate order surely made that price tag somewhat ambitious. But then again perhaps not. As those in the old car business are fond of saying: find another.

We’d quite understand if the Favorit wasn’t for you, but the next time you read the praise being showered on the latest Skoda just remember that it all began here.

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