Not everyone can say that Škoda is tied to him as I can. Not everyone has worked in their factories. Not everyone has ancestors who worked in the factory of this progressive car brand, which at the very least, created the history of the auto industry in Central Europe. And not everyone can say that his great-grandfather was master of apprentices in the 50’s until the time when the communist regime shut him down. He was called the father of apprentices.
The Škoda Popular (1939) was the first Škoda I drove as a small boy in my grandpa’s garage. Sometimes I would walk into grandpa’s barricaded garage secretly, and for appearance’s sake would drive this pre-war car. It was incredibly exciting. Though I don’t know if it was more “driving it” or that my grandpa might catch me out.
The Škoda 100 (1969-77) was my second grandpa’s car. I think I travelled in this car just once that I can remember. It was a crazy ride from Prague to Pilsen (Plzeň) and back. Hats and caps on our heads to stop us getting cold.
But I remember very well the Škoda 1000 MB (1964-69) which my father owned, a really nice car of that time. Father repaired it very often. When he didn’t know how to change a bulb on the tail light my ability to see in detail came to the fore, and I advised him where to find the screw for removing the rear light. He was pretty surprised. I quite liked that car, until the time when the gearbox seized up and we had to walk to the bus stop, as it was a few kilometres to the nearest city. I always wanted to create a remake of this car as a modern version 2000MB in the style of a Mercedes, but it never happened. Škoda is doing its own thing.
I took my driving lessons in a Škoda Felicia (1994-2001). I was learning on both facelift versions, but three years before that I was working in their factory in the coating plant during my school holidays, thanks to grandpa and grandma who worked for Škoda. The basic car body was moving on the production line in base paint, and my task was to glue crazy plasticine on specific holes in order that the Platizol intended for spraying the underbody didn’t splash inside the car body. My thumb became like a spinner’s, but it was a great opportunity for a student to make good money and try something new, and primarily, it was an opportunity to see the whole car making procedure.
Later I drove a Škoda Octavia (1. generation 1996-2000) as an employee of a company, I begged the driver to let me take over when we delivered goods. He was reluctant to allow me to do this at first, but over time he let me drive longer and longer routes. It was a great feeling to drive a proper car when you have a new driving licence. Only once did I have a close call while overtaking, but even this chump handled it in the end, although my older colleague almost had a heart attack. It wouldn’t have been anything unusual at his age.
When I lived at Mladá Boleslav I tried a job in an assembly plant, this time as a real employee where the complete Octavia leaves the factory floor. I tried more tasks on the production line. The most difficult one was closing the plastic cover for cables in the engine of the car. It looked like an easy job, but always when the model has automatic transmission, you have to put all the cables in the same space as cables for the car with manual transmission. The point is that the automatic car has about 30% more cables than the manual one, and it wasn’t much fun. A few times they had to stop the whole production line because of me to solve this cover issue before the car left the factory floor. So they moved me onto a different task. It was the bending of the brake cables. I never understood what it was about. Also here they had to stop the whole assembly line and my mister came and asked me “Is there any problem? ” And I answered “No, there isn’t.” “OK, you will do a different task” he told me. But I said; “let me stay here and I will not come back tomorrow ”; and I didn‘t. I did that job for one week, my shortest job ever.
I bought a Škoda 130 (1984-1988) as my first car when I needed to go to work. It was a modernised model of the Škoda 120. Because all models basically look the same (except of pictured Š. Rapid), everybody called her “a one-hunded and twenty” (stodváca), regardless of the model. Stories about these cars could be written about in novels. This car was like a disease, it was everywhere.
Living in Mladá Boleslav had interesting and funny moments. Sometimes it was interesting to listen to the neighbour’s stories. For example, a Škoda Superb (2001 – now) was needed internally to pick up someone important. One of his colleagues called the Miss who was in charge of the lending of company cars, “Miss, we need a Škoda Superb ” she answered; “We don’t have a Škoda Superb here. ” “What do you mean you don’t have a Škoda Superb? Miss, we produce the cars!” the colleague reacted.
The Škoda Fabia (1999-until now). Thanks to my employment, I had an opportunity to enjoy this model during my business trips across the Czech Republic, whether it was from Prague to Brno, Ostrava, Pilsen(Plzeň), Hradec, or Slovakia and Austria. It was a pleasure to drive this car. Everything was so quiet and comfortable. The only thing that roared was the radio. Of course the best ride in the Fabia was in the meadow by the forest, one couldn’t believe how much space there was in the backseat.
Škoda has made huge progress since it became part of the Volkswagen group, and it is one of the biggest employers in the Czech Republic. Apart from the main factory in Mladá Boleslav, they have factories in Vrchlabí, Kvasiny, Russia, China, India and Slovakia. The progress is enormous, and you can see it on everything that Škoda does.
Škoda Auto factories don’t only produce Škoda cars, but also Seat include their SUV on the same platform as the new SUV Škoda Kodiaq (2016). I have to admit that since the time of the Škoda Yeti, this car factory just keeps getting better. Conceived by the Slovakian designer, Jozef Kabáň, it is as timeless and revolutionary as the Kodiaq in the history of Škoda, even though the name sounds strange to me. According to a promotional video, Škoda was inspired for Europeans in distant Alaska by the city of Kodiak. You can find the city on Google maps. I am not going to tell you more about the specification or how it drives, there are others who can do that. But I am convinced it will be a comfortable journey whether you go on roads, terrain, mountain areas or to Alaska. I believe that Škoda will get into the US market and even Americans will start to love this car in the future, as the current owners do now.
This is not a public relations article for Škoda cars, only pride for my Czech origin, and a brand that accompanies me throughout my life whether I want it to or not.
Written by Lord Charles
Images provided by Škoda Auto a.s.