More than 60 years ago, Czech automaker Skoda built a pair of coupes as the next evolution of the company’s open-cockpit endurance racing 1100-class cars. The coupes raced for a couple of years, but regulations for their category changed and the cars were sold.
Both cars would be wrecked in road mishaps. But a few parts were salvaged and preserved so that, equipped with the original design and engineering documents, Skoda’s Motorsport has worked with staff from the company museum and the company’s prototype center and has reconstructed a Skoda 1100 OHC Coupe as part of the 120th anniversary of the company’s motorsports involvement.
The original coupes were built in 1959 and 1960 and based on the earlier Skoda 1100 (internal code 968) racing cars. The open-cockpit racers still exist, one in the Skoda museum, except for occasional ventures to vintage racing events, and the other as part of the company’s car collection in the UK.
The coupes were designed to be lighter and faster. Instead of the roadsters’ central tube with forks for the engine mount, the coupes used a lighter truss frame welded from thin-walled tubes, and had trapezoidal suspension with a pair of triangular wishbones, one above the other, for the front wheels, with a coupling axle with trailing arms at the rear.
Propulsion was provided by a 92-horsepower (at 7,700 rpm), 2-carburetor, 4-cylinder engine set behind the front axle and linked to a 5-speed transmission. With balanced weight distribution, the cars were said to provide outstanding dynamics.
The aluminum-bodied cars weighted only 1,220 pounds and had a top speed of around 125 mph. They raced through the 1962 season, after which the under 1,100cc racing-class regulations were changed. The cars were sold to private owners, and both were wrecked.
However, one of the owners had replaced the original engine, and for many years, it was displayed at the vocational school in Mladá Boleslav. That owner also had several spare parts, which were preserved and could be used in the reconstruction.
The other car caught fire in its mishap, but its unusual rear axle with integrated gearbox was recovered and offered to the National Technical Museum in Prague, and later donated to the Skoda Museum. The car’s truss frame also had been saved, though it was cut into three pieces.
Working from original technical documents and with the available parts, the chassis was reconstructed in 2015. The original plan was to display it at the museum next to the open-cockpit car, but carpenters went to work building a buck based on Jaroslav Kindl’s original designs and metalworkers hammered out the body panels. The final shapes and the construction of other components, such as the lights, were aided by the use of historical photographs.
“The elaborate project to completely reconstruct the vehicle required numerous smaller components to be sourced that were identical to the parts used in production vehicles at the time,” Skoda noted in its news release.
For example, outer door handles came from the Skoda 1200 sedan, switches and the ignition lock were from the Skoda 440 “Spartak” and Octavia, and the 3-spoke, black-plastic steering wheel came from the pre-war Skoda Popular.
The car has been painted red, the color applied to the original coupes midway through the 1962 racing season.