The ŠKODA 110 R is still one of the most elegant Czech sports cars but did you know its debut was half a century ago?
The trendy sports car with a rear engine was an instant success and served as the basis for the Czech car manufacturer’s legendary rally and racing cars including the ŠKODA 180 and legendary ŠKODA 130 RS which later became known as the ‘Porsche of the East’ was also derived from the 110 R.
1964 saw the Czech marque producing the ŠKODA 1000 MB ‘notchback‘ saloon with a self-supporting body, rear engine placement and rear-wheel drive system implemented. ŠKODA invested heavily in modern production facilities for the new series and soon concentrated fully on the production of this newcomer due to the sales success of the rear engine saloon in export markets.
It was for this reason ŠKODA discontinued production of the Felicia convertible. However, demand for sports models remained strong, particularly in Western European markets. ŠKODA responded to its customer’s wishes providing them with a vehicle that would give the brand a much-needed ‘image boost’ despite remaining a niche product in terms of the planned number of units.
While the development of the ŠKODA 100/110 L series was underway (the successor to the 1000 MB that received body upgrades, front disc brakes and improved safety equipment), work began on the two-door coupé version ŠKODA 110 R.
The development of the 110 R, nicknamed ‘Erko’ in the Czech Republic, began in 1966, and in March 1968 the first prototype with the internal designation Š 718 K rolled out of the ŠKODA factory in Kvasiny. The coupé body differed from the notchback version not only with its elegantly sloping rear end but also with a steeper sloped windscreen and two wide doors with frameless windows.
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During test drives, which took place on motorways in the GDR, among other places, the coupé reached a top speed of 145 km/h. The second prototype was completed in March 1969. This was equipped with a double carburettor and an AC generator instead of a dynamo.
ŠKODA invited many journalists to the world premiere of the 110 R, which was held in the halls of residence at the company’s vocational school in Mladá Boleslav. After the press conference, the guests were given the opportunity to try out the new sports coupé nearby at Hoškovice airport.
ŠKODA 110 R – First Glimpse
The enthusiastic public was given their first glimpse of the new star on the Czech block on 5 September 1970 at the engineering fair in Brno, where ŠKODA showcased three variants. The foundation stone for the success of the sports coupé on export markets was laid at the motor shows in Paris, London and Turin, which opened their doors in quick succession in October 1970.
Demand for the 110 R rose sharply, but the ramp-up of ŠKODA’s production encountered problems due to the political conditions at the time which meant by the end of 1970, only 121 vehicles had been built, and it was not until the second quarter of 1971 that the first units of the coupé could be delivered to customers overseas.
Subsequently, the Czech car manufacturer concentrated primarily on exports: of around 3,000 units produced in 1971, only 442 vehicles made it to the showrooms of the then Czechoslovak monopoly dealer Mototechna. The 110 R came with a hefty price tag of at least 78,000 crowns, which at that time was the equivalent of around 40 months wages.