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The Carchive: The Skoda 1000MB.


Libraries are great. Histories and cultures, collected and catalogued for the benefit of mankind. But all too often they have altogether insufficient car content. That’s where The Carchive comes in.

I’ve still got Eastern Europe in my mind after my little trip to Slovakia, so let’s finish the week off with a look at a socialist relic from before that country was divorced from the Czech Republic. It’s the Skoda 1000MB.

This is the very flimsiest of brochures and its very survival is something of a miracle. Originally issued by James Lowry and Co of Belfast, Northern Ireland, but seemingly printed in Belgium, it dates from approximately 1965. Fifty years. It’s done well.


“The result of over two years testing and development…. in all climatic conditions”

Well, the climate testing could well have been performed without leaving the factory; such is the region’s propensity for changeable weather. A tropical summer could well follow an Arctic winter.

The Skoda 1000MB (MB for Mladá Boleslav, home of the Skoda factory) was the long-due replacement for a procession of vehicles culminating with the Octavia. In an effort to modernise, the new car was intended to have either a front wheel drive power package like was becoming the vogue across Europe, or a rear engine, rear drive layout as found in certain Renaults and Simcas. And the Beetle, of course. And others.

This latter configuration was favoured by Skoda apparently for cost and ease of engineering.

“Big car performance”

They quote zero to fifty in “14 to 15” seconds, which sounds a bit like a guess. “You know, that kind of ballpark figure” and that was fifty. 0-60 may well have taken twice as long.

By the standards of the day the 1000MB was by no means under-imbued with power, 45BHP came spinning out of the sub-litre capacity in-line four, which was water cooled and carried an automatic choke. Strangely, the block was aluminium but with a cast iron head.

This meant that everything forward of the cabin was dedicated to carrying stuff, with only the steering, suspension and “brakes” (inverted commas completely intentional) impeding on room.

Look closer at the spec list and you find such niceties as three ashtrays, fully reclining “anatomic” front seats and, crucially, a comprehenive tool kit. It wasn’t the completely miserable machine that the name would later be associated. Indeed, the MB was launched at a time before development budgets were unconscionably restricted (which led to Skoda’s being underdeveloped for years and years and rather left behind by design and technology).

And I think it was a pretty cool looking device, with side intake strakes decades before the Ferrari Mondial.

(All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, copyright now belonging to VW Group, I guess. I had taken some better photos, but at the last minute my camera decided it hadn’t stored them, so the appalling images you see were taken at midnight in the kitchen. Sorry)

  • tonyola

    Iron curtain cars intrigued me as a kid because there was seemingly not a lot of information about them at the time. I remember seeing pictures of the Skoda, mostly in British magazines. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the 1000MB was also available as a hardtop coupe – the 1000MBX. Pretty bourgeois for a “socialist paradise”.


  • dukeisduke

    Seconds later, the doors fell off.

    • Van_Sarockin

      Adding lightness, FTW. It’s not like they were doing much for safety or keeping the weather out.

  • dukeisduke

    What is the Skoda logo supposed to represent, anyway? I always thought it looked like the head of a rooster.

    • mzszsm

      It’s an arrow with wings. I remember lines of cars forming behind my parents’ Skoda in the Austrian Alps and I’ll shamelessly share this photo every chance I get here:

      • Sjalabais

        Lets call them “lines of admiration”.

  • smokyburnout

    There’s a couple of megawatt cars running up Pike’s Peak next week, but I guess they’ve already been beaten to the megabyte car

  • An interesting thing is that VW actually kept using that engine family for quite a while after buying Skoda – it made it until 2003 still with pushrods, as the 1.0 and 1.4 8v MPI engines in the Fabia.

    It gets weirder – in 2010, VW resurrected it, put a direct injection OHC head on it (the block still has provisions for the pushrods), put a turbo on it, and it even made it into the Polo and the Mk6 Golf as the 1.2 TSI. Looks like that engine died last year, though, in favor of the EA211 engines.

    Meanwhile, in ‘murrica, we get none of that delightfully insane stuff.

    • Rover 1

      Did not know that !
      That’s why we’re on Redusernab.
      Thank you.

  • CapitalistRoader

    They could have shortened the name to 1GB. Or is that a British thing, thousand million instead of billion?

    • KMNTR

      What!? 🙂

      The “1000” is the nominal engine displacement and the “MB” stands for “Mladá Boleslav”, the city where the Škoda factory is located.

  • brum

    problems with MBX 😉


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