Twenty years ago, on July 1, 1987, the plant in Mladá Boleslav produced the very first (“pre-series”) Skoda Favorit. Six months later, the series production was launched, starting one of the most important periods in the history of what is today the Czech Republic's largest car manufacturer.

Referred to as Skoda 781 at the pre-launch stage, the Favorit was Skoda's first front-wheel-drive vehicle. Drawing attention from several strong international players, the concept of a lower-middle-class front-wheel-drive hatchback with a transversally mounted engine in the front proved to be successful - the Favorit played a major role in VOLKSWAGEN AG's decision of 1991 to join Skoda AUTO.

Skoda cooperated with a number of foreign companies at the development stage - the most important partnership was that with the Italian-based design studio Nuccio Bertone that designed the final version of the body. Another major brand heavily involved in the development of the new vehicle was Porsche - with the objective of achieving the best possible acoustics-and-vibrations parameters, the German-based company got the task of designing the engine-mount solution. In the end, altogether 42 patents were registered in connection with the new vehicle.

However, the financial power of the then Czechoslovak car manufacturer was limited, because the budget was approved by the government. Political pressures nearly forced the developers to use the old engine, but the emerging environmental wave helped to change that decision and made it possible to make at least some basic adaptations. The development cost reached 210 million Czechoslovak crowns, but was still lower than if Skoda had bought licences for the production of the respective components.

Initially, the company management planned to produce 336,000 vehicles by 1990 and then terminate the production of this model. However, Skoda then continued producing the Favorit until 1994 (altogether 783,163 vehicles) and gradually extended the line with the Forman and Pick-Up versions (223,059 and 70,900 vehicles, respectively). The price of the Skoda Favorit was 143,500 Czechoslovak crowns - with 3,000 Czechoslovak crowns being the average earning at that time, the customers had to pay nearly 50 monthly salaries to get the new vehicle. Today, the basic-version Fabia costs 13 average salaries (average salary in the Czech Republic), i.e., about four times less.

Published : 24/07/07 Author : Melanie Carter

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