This rare and ‘only’ Spider B5 is now one of the Škoda Museum’s most valuable exhibits and also one of the most exotic cars ever to be seen on racetracks in the 1970s around Czechoslovakia…
It was back in 1973 when the International Automobile Federation (FIA) decided to merge B5 and B6 classes into a stand-alone B6 class for vehicles with a maximum engine size of 3-litres. In the Czechoslovak championship, the engine capacity was restricted to 2-litre, which prompted the then state-owned company AZNP (now Škoda) to start developing an open two-seater for circuit and hill climb racing.
A team of thrifty Czech designers made the decision to snaffle parts from the trusty 110 L series, modify them and set about creating this rather neat Škoda Spider B5, which also had an aluminium body that could be lifted at both front and rear.
Power came from an over-head-valve four-cylinder unit that was originally used in the Škoda 720, producing a breathtaking 150 hp, and was mounted just in front of the rear axle. Upgrades to the engine included the original 1.5-litre being increased to 1.6 and 1.8 litres. The final season in 1975 also saw the introduction of an engine with a 2.0-litre capacity, which, depending on the overall transmission ratio, could reach an impressive top speed of around 220 km/h – that’s nearly 140mph in old money.
Initially, designers fitted the racing car with a five-speed racing gearbox from the Tatra 603 but soon replaced it with a more reliable and less ‘clunky’ Škoda transmission unit developed in-house. Apart from a revised steering column, the steering system was identical to that used in the series model.
Remember this was a time when the Morris Marina was the fourth best selling car in the UK and braking systems were less effective than nowadays… The Spider B5 had modified standard brakes with disc brakes only at the front with deceleration adequately achieved by some heavy footwork by any thrill-seeking pilot.
A double-wishbone axle at the front and swinging axle at the rear were also based on the corresponding standard components from the Škoda 110. Its coil springs and shock absorbers were designed for a vehicle weight of only 630kg and Dunlop racing tyres were mounted on 13-inch aluminium rims.
Due to its somewhat unpredictable handling, the Spider B5 quickly became known as the ‘Skokan’ or ‘jumper’ in Czech by the main driver, Jaroslav Bobek who came from a famous motorsport dynasty; his older brother Václav had been successfully racing Škoda cars since the end of the 1940s.
As you’ve probably guessed, only one of these compact little things was ever produced, measuring in at only 3,650mm in length, 1,700mm in width and a height of only 850mm – that’s a full 166mm less than a GT40.
The Śkoda Spider B5 is now one of the Museum’s most desirable and valuable exhibits, alongside the Spider II which is currently undergoing extensive restoration. The dynamic duo is scheduled to be reunited and showcased at the Museum in the near future.
Images courtesy Śkoda
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