The desirable ŠKODA 1101 ‘Tudor’ is 75 years old next year and the Czech automobile manufacturer’s first post-war model still looks as delightful as ever.
Completed on May 7, 1946, the attractive classic marked the beginning of a new chapter in the marques history and even boasted a sport based variant which took place in the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
Featuring curvaceous design lines and technically advanced for its time, the ŠKODA 1101 even included a ‘split’ central tube chassis, hydraulic brakes, independent suspension with a punchy and economical four-cylinder engine delivering an impressive 32 hp.
From 1946, the ‘suicide’ two-door look were the foundations across the model range. It was actually the English adjective ‘two-door’ from which the popular name ‘Tudor’ arose, which subsequently saw a four-door saloon added to meet the needs of customers at home and abroad. This would later be used by the Czechoslovak ministries and the diplomatic corps as a service vehicle and was the most frequently built variant from 1949.
Andrea Frydlová, head of the ŠKODA Museum:
“The strengths of several generations of the model series Popular and Rapid were incorporated into the ŠKODA 1101, thanks to which ŠKODA had become the largest automobile manufacturer in former Czechoslovakia by 1936. The ‘Tudor’ significantly outperformed its predecessor.”
ŠKODA 1101 ‘Tudor’ Types
The extremely popular convertibles had their doors fixed in a rigid frame and the folding part of the roof made of the usual ‘rag-top’ material. Then there were the elegant Roadsters which offered affluent punters everyday trendy practicalities. Commercial variants included a van with two side windows and the estate version that was known as a station wagon, marked ‘STW’. At that time, they already had a folding rear seat, which increased the size of the loading space to 1490 mm in length and 1380 mm in width.
A special chapter of the ‘Tudor’ story was written by the ŠKODA 1101 VO (vojenský otevřený, military model – open) and 1101 P (pohotovostní, standby/emergency) with its jeep body. These versions were used by the armed forces of several countries, including Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
ŠKODA Sport – 24 Hours of Le Mans
The ŠKODA 1101/1102 also scored major successes in 1948 motorsport with success in the 24-hour race in Spa, Belgium. The special edition ŠKODA Sport and Supersport had uprated engines in different versions, including a version with 1490 cm3, which featured a Roots blower, and reached more than 200 km/h with its 180 hp output.
1949 witnessed the ŠKODA Sport. The open two-seater had a wheelbase shortened by 400 millimetres and a particularly flat pontoon body made of light aluminium. It made its debut at the Czechoslovakian Grand Prix held in Brno. However, the brand had its sights set on another goal – Le Mans, the already world-famous 24-hour race in the French department of Sarthe.
On 24 June 1950, a Saturday, the ŠKODA factory team finally made it: The enhanced version of the 1101 Sport was positioned diagonally in front of the pit wall of the 13.65km ‘Circuit des 24 Heures’, ready for the Le Mans start at 16.00 hrs, which was still common at that time – the drivers lined up on the opposite side of the track ready to sprint to their racing cars at the signal, jump in, start the engine and speed off. It was not until 1970 that this practice was abolished for safety reasons.
The ŠKODA 1101/1102 takes a place of honour in the long history of the brand from Mladá Boleslav. The following model series successfully continued this technical concept until 1964 when production began on a completely new generation of vehicles – the ŠKODA 1000 MB with rear engine and a self-supporting all-metal body.