Happy 60th birthday to the Škoda Octavia!

| 30 Jan 2019
Classic & Sports Car – Happy 60th birthday to the Škoda Octavia!

Exactly 60 years ago today, on 30 January 1959, the original Škoda Octavia rolled off the production line in Mladá Boleslav.

Think ‘Octavia’ today and a family-friendly saloon or estate comes to mind, but the first Škoda to carry that name was actually the stylish two-door model you see above.

Its name comes from the fact that it was the eighth model launched by the company since the Second World War. 

Classic & Sports Car – Happy 60th birthday to the Škoda Octavia!

For the first few weeks, this new model was produced alongside its Š 440 and Š 445 predecessors.

Under the bonnet of the rear-wheel-drive Octavia was a 1.1-litre, 40hp engine mated to a four-speed manual gearbox, giving the car a 110kph (68mph) top speed, while coil-spring front suspension helped ride comfort.

During that first year, asymmetric headlamps were introduced as a safety measure, plus the more powerful Octavia Super arrived, with 45hp from its 1.2-litre engine.

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Next came the Škoda Octavia Touring Sport (TS), which was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on 10 March 1960 with a 50hp powerplant and which took the Octavia name into the world of international motorsport.

The Octavia TS was homologated for competition in the unmodified road vehicles class and scooped a hat-trick of class wins on the Monte Carlo Rally in 1961,’62 and ’63.

Just six months after the TS, the Octavia Combi broke cover for the first time in Brno. Built at Škoda’s Kvasiny factory, this model upped the ante in terms of practicality thanks to its two-piece, horizontally split tailgate.

It might’ve been just 4.065m long, but this compact estate could swallow 690 litres of luggage and carry five people, with a 0.965m loading length. And that became a 1050-litre capacity with the rear seats folded away.

Classic & Sports Car – Happy 60th birthday to the Škoda Octavia!

Škoda’s do-it-all Octavia Combi was built from 1960 until 1971, and in 1966, 72% were exported.

The final two-door saloon left Mladá Boleslav on 11 April 1964, soon succeeded by the 1000/1100MB, while the last estate was completed on 21 December 1971.

In total, between 1959 and 1971, 360,000 Octavias were produced, of which in excess of 54,000 were Combis.

Classic & Sports Car – Happy 60th birthday to the Škoda Octavia!

The revival of the Octavia name was a long time coming, but on 4 April 1996, the covers came off the new Škoda saloon – and, as before a Combi-monikered estate version was soon added to the range. A four-wheel-drive model was launched in 1999.

The second new-generation Octavia was built between 2004 and 2013, and the third – and current – iteration has been in production since November 2012.

Indeed, over 6.5m Octavias have now been built. And it all began 60 years ago today – happy birthday!


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