Following on from last week’s Yugo, it’s the turn of Skoda to make an appearance on Old Gold Top Gear. But not just any old Skoda. This is the Skoda that signalled the end of ‘old Skoda’ and heralded the dawn of a new era, not least because it was the first front-wheel drive car from the manufacturer.
What’s more, the Favorit represents the last hurrah for Skoda before the takeover by Volkswagen. They had some help too, with none other than Porsche having a hand in the car’s suspension, Bertone taking car of the styling and Ricardo tweaking the engine. Admittedly, the Favorit is no Miura, Stratos or X1/9, but I think the design is charming. I just love the unashamedly angular and boxy design, it feels very ’80s. In fact, give it a multicoloured paint job, à la Polo Harlequin, and it could pass for a Rubik’s Cube on wheels.
I also love the British-sourced 5-spoke alloy wheels that, as is pointed out by Chris Goffey, were shipped out from the Skoda-owned importers in King’s Lynn, fitted in Czechoslovakia before the cars were imported back into the UK. Once in the UK, the importers also added a sunroof, rear wash wipe and mud flaps. So this really was a joint European effort, with the Czechs, the British, the Germans and the Italians playing a part in its development. And to think this was a good few years before the signing of the Maastricht Treaty.
Mr Goffey clearly struggles to find fault with the Favorit, praising its pace, gear change and ride and handling. He even finishes by saying that it competes with its more illustrious rivals on merit, with its £5,000 price tag proving to be the icing on the cake.
Once again, old Top Gear proves that, far from being dull and uninspiring, it’s actually an informative and enjoyable programme. I’m even thinking of launching PetrolBlog TV and it wouldn’t be a million miles away from the style of old Top Gear.
But back to the Favorit, I’ve fancied one for some time. I often see a bright green estate version on the way to the office and it always raises a smile. It just looks bonkers. I also like the fact that in foreign markets, the estate version was called the Forman.
It’s also comforting to know that as a direct result of a falling out between the Czech government and Nuccio Bertone, we were spared the horror of a Favorit Shatchback. Although I am mildly curious as to what it would look like.
After years of rapid decline, the number of Favorits on the road is relatively healthy. According to How Many Left?, there are 1,119 Skoda Favorits currently in regular service. Not bad at all, but when consider that in 1995, there were over 50,000 on Britain’s roads, it’s quite a drop. At the start of the millennium, as many as 6,000 were being lost every year.
But despite the high number of Favorits left, I could only find one for sale on Auto Trader, with none at all on Car & Classic, eBay or PistonHeads. Clearly people like to hold on to their Favorits.
I’ll leave you with yet another gem from Top Gear. Look out for some vintage Rapid rallying and some epic Welsh roads. Oh, and did you know that the children of Skoda dealers used to be bullied at school? Neither did I.
Thanks to danielandricky for the video.