The distinctive Škoda Popular Sport Monte Carlo celebrated its motor show premiere at the International Motor Show in Paris 84 years ago and still looks amazing today.
It was in January 1936 when achieved the motorsport pairing of Zdeněk Pohl / Jaroslav Hausman, finished in second place at the Monte Carlo Rally in the 1500 cc class with a modified Roadster Škoda Popular. The company seized this opportunity to launch a limited series of sports models with a distinctive design and tenacious styling not seen before by the brand.
A punchy 1.4-litre and 23kW (31 hp) from the Rapid model gave the standard customer something close to the rally car and included a three-speed transmission that was located above the rear axle and combining with the differential resulting in a transaxle system.
With a top speed of 110 km/h, the sporty classic boasted effective hydraulic brakes and other period luxuries which in 1936, would cost 28.500 crowns the limited edition model, while the standard Roadster Popular 1.0 l / 16kW (22 PS) started at a more reasonable 18,700 crowns.
Andrea Frydlová, Head of the Škoda Museum in Mladá Boleslav said:
“The extraordinary vehicles of the Popular Monte Carlo type are tied to Škoda’s successful motorsport involvement 80 years ago, which had begun in 1901.
“The limited-edition series was directly derived from the one-off vehicle built for the Monte Carlo Rally in 1936, their buyers benefited from the experience of the marques racing department.”
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The first of the two Montecarlo was built in July 1936 while the last – a coupé with dark grey metallic paint, delivered promptly on 13 January 1939. Of the 70 cars produced, 24 were roadsters produced with a lower specification. In addition, 17 ‘upgraded’ and more comfortable roadsters were produced with handle-operated side windows instead of fixed glazing. 23 coupés, a pair of convertibles, two chassis for the individual body construction, two suspension variants and a range of engines completed the series.
There were two roadsters that were particularly luxurious, which the Czechoslovak government sent to the Yugoslavian Head of State in 1938 – the then 14-year old king Petar II. More affluent private customers could opt for the two-seater coupé Škoda Popular Monte Carlo which cost 35,000 crowns and measured 4.20m in length, 1.50m wide, 1.37m high, and weighed around 960kg.
In October 1937, the facelift model went on sale, its characteristics included uprated suspension and tuning, as well as a longer wheelbase. The compact body featured many aspects of the then streamlined design including the headlights which were partially integrated with the wings. Among the prominent clients were the popular actor of the Prague theatre ‘Na Vinohradech’ Otomar Korbelář.
Today only a dozen Škoda Popular Monte Carlo models exist and they are among the most sought-after classic cars produced by the Czech automobile manufacturer. In 1968, the newly founded Museum acquired a black coupé dating back to 1937, which subsequently underwent careful restoration at the turn of the century. Since then, the two-seater has been used for various historic presentations of the brand from Mladá Boleslav.
Another limited edition Popular Sport Monte Carlo is currently undergoing a complete nut and bolt restoration at the Škoda Museum workshop.