Škoda Favorit turns 30

The car was a design revolution for its time

The popular Škoda Favorit made it debut 30 years ago and helped to turn around the fortunes of the then-Czechoslovak carmaker.

The Škoda Favorit debuted Sept. 16, 1987, at the International Engineering Fair in Brno, with Czechoslovak President Gustav Husak and Prime Minister Lubomír Štrougal in attendance.

The hatchback model was delivered to customers starting in 1988; two years later the estate version called Škoda Forman hit the market, followed by other variations including electric cars. By 1995, when production ended, some 1,077,126 units of the Favorit / Forman series had been produced.

“With the Škoda Favorit, the development team of the then Czechoslovak automotive manufacturer provided proof of their skills and commitment in the difficult final years of the socialist era. The compact car, designed by the Italian studio Bertone, rolled off the line with a transversely mounted front engine and front-wheel drive – a revolution for the brand. The concept, design and driving behavior of the Škoda Favorit was comparable to that of Western competitors, and was one of the few passenger cars in the so-called Eastern bloc not to be built under license,” Škoda said in a press release.

The name Favorit, however, was not new. There was a large luxury limousine produced between 1936 and '41 with that name. Škoda often recycles names of its successful cars.

The new Favorit was the replacement for the boxy Škoda 105/120 Estelle, which had rear-wheel drive and the engine mounted in the back. That car was made in Mladá Boleslav between 1976 and '90.

The idea for the Favorit began before Bertone joined the project, with the first prototypes were made by Czechoslovak engineers.

Škoda had sought outside design work before. In the late 1960s the carmaker cooperated with Italian design company Italdesign on the prototype of the Škoda 720, but due to political reasons the car was never produced.

Work on the design for the Favorit began in 1983 and took over two years, and then another two years before it finally went into production. The car introduced a lot of new technologies to Central European car design.

The Favorit became very popular in Central Europe and was also exported to Eastern Europe and South America. Some 50,000 Favorits were sold in the UK from 1989 to '95, but just 232 were still on the road as of December 2016, according to Microsoft News (MSN).

The Favorit was eventually replaced in 1994 by the Škoda Felicia. That car was developed in conjunction with Volkswagen Group, which held a large stake in Škoda Auto since 1991. Volkswagen has fully owned Škoda since 2000. The success of the Favorit was one of the factors that drew Volkswagen's interest toward acquiring Škoda as a subsidiary.

This is not the only anniversary that Škoda celebrated this year. The Škoda 450, the predecessor of the Roadster Felicia, and the Škoda 1100 OHC racing car both turn 60. The Kvasiny plant marks 70 years of Škoda production in East Bohemia.

Škoda Auto was founded in 1895 as Laurin & Klement. It is headquartered in Mladá Boleslav, in Central Bohemia. In 1925 Laurin & Klement was acquired by Škoda Works, which became state owned in 1948 and was privatized after the Velvet Revolution.

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