It’s 55 years since Škoda presented the legendary 1000 MB in the spring of 1964 and the ‘laughable’ Czechoslovakian classic has become desirable for some quirky enthusiasts.
The Škoda 1000 MB marked a turning point in the history of the Czech automobile manufacturer, switching to a rear-engined layout and drawing inspiration from its half brother, the Renault 8. It was powered by a 988cc OHV with an aluminium cylinder block.
Produced at the Mladá Boleslav plant, the ‘compact’ classic benefitted from a self-supporting body and even boasted some advanced technology, comfort and design such as aluminium alloy as well as a special die-casting process for the engine’s crankcase and four-speed manual transmission, which was unique in Europe. It was based on a patent registered by the Czech engineer Josef Polák in 1922.
Often the butt of many jokes, the 1000 MB navigated away from the tyre tracks of the more successful chassis-based Octavia which had a front engine and rear-wheel drive, and took off with an entirely new concept; a self-supporting body with all-round independent wheel suspension. Thanks to its advanced design and the consistent use of aluminium alloys, the family car weighed in at a frugal 755 kilograms.
The water-cooled OHV in-line four-cylinder was shifted to the rear and drove the rear axle, but tended to flood the cabin with the smell of cheap fuel which added to the nostalgic lack of power that was delivered from the low compression sowing machine located at the rear.
This light engine generated 27 kW (37 hp) in the first phase from a displacement of 988 cm3. The modern vehicle reached a top speed of 120 km/h with a very favourable consumption for that time of 7 to 8 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres. In 1966, the power increased to 32 kW (43 hp) and with the Škoda 1100 MB, a second engine variant was added, which provided 38 kW (52 hp) from a 1.1-litre displacement. The rare two-door MBX version is particularly sought after among classic car collectors today.
Dauphine aspirations were ever-present with a large panoramic rear window did provide all-around visibility at the rear. The car also incorporated a rather nifty designed fuel filler neck which was cleverly concealed in the right-side wing by a swivelling Škoda emblem.
Yes, it had design flaws but the looks have matured like a fine Czech wine with few collectors turning the other cheek at this particular 1000 MB….
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