The glorious ŠKODA 860 remains an automotive delicacy and reflects an exquisite level of design and engineering competence from the Czech marque that often found itself the source of many disrespectful automotive quips.
Fast forward nearly 90 years and this impressive 1932 example is now the only surviving convertible in a series that was once the largest and most expensive private vehicle from Mladá Boleslav and was bought mainly by affluent institutions and entrepreneurs.
The number 860 represented the number of cylinders and performance (60 HP). The 8 related directly to the water-cooled in-line eight-cylinder engine which offered good power output and a high degree of flexibility for its time. The imperious 860 was also unapologetic about its appearance, measuring in at a sniff under 5.5 metres long.
The classic 860 personifies the traditional Czech brand’s golden age, setting the standards of its day in terms of features, driving comfort and performance and is now part of the permanent exhibition of the ŠKODA Museum in Mladá Boleslav.
Aspirational designers seized an opportunity to build on technology first developed in 1907 with the Laurin & Klement FF; probably the first eight-cylinder in-line engine in Central Europe.
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The competent Czech automaker demonstrated an engineering level that was rarely witnessed in the pre-war period, utilizing a nine-bearing crankshaft and a Lanchester vibration damper to ensure complete smoothness was experienced by the often ‘well-heeled’ driver and passengers of the vehicle.
Although dated and less efficient by modern-day standards, the 4-stroke petrol 3,880cc engine is still impressive today with a top speed of around 110 km/h.
Slowing down was, of course, an integral part in the strong engineering of the car with a braking system that even boasted a vacuum brake servo (booster) which, at the time, was an extraordinary addition to safety.
ŠKODA 860 Restoration
ŠKODA AUTO has now extensively restored the vehicle over recent years, placing great emphasis on integrity. Skilled restorers completely stripped the classic including paintwork, roof cover, seat upholstery, trim, and additional minor repairs to the wood construction and bodywork.
Today, the roadworthy exhibit resides at the company’s headquarters in Mladá Boleslav as part of the ŠKODA Museum’s permanent exhibition but is used continually for external demonstrations and display purposes.