Old Gold Top Gear: Skoda Favorit

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.

Skoda Favorit LXie FlairlineI 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.

Skoda Favorit estate 'Forman'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.

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Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.


  1. March 22, 2012
    john slavin

    Pure win

    • March 22, 2012

      Superbly summarised.

      Fancy a job editing PetrolBlog. It would certainly cut down on the waffle and bunk! 😉

  2. March 22, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    Great little cars for what they are. Careful with those wheels though. Newer ones use Polo ones and can be really annoying before you know and schlep to the scrappy for a new one 😉

    • March 22, 2012

      Lots of love for the Favorit. I reckon the numbers will stay healthy as a result.

  3. March 23, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    Quite like the Favorit. And the Felicia too, which was more on my radar as a young’un growing up. Beyond the few remaining jokes that were around when I was a kid, Skoda was already improving – I can remember nothing but generally positive reviews for the Felicia and I still think it’s a nice looking car today – though not quite as crisp as the Favorit.

    In some ways, I think the poor reputation did Skoda a world of good. They’re like the unpopular kid at school who had the solid resolve to grow up to be funny and successful. There’s no pretension about the company which I quite like, no pseudo-premium rubbish even though the cars are now quality products.

    • March 23, 2012

      I agree.

      At least Skoda had something to work with, hence the ‘It’s a Skoda. Honest’ line.

      Still amazes me when people respond in such a negative way to the mere mention of Skoda. Even Chris Goffey said that the Favorit was able to compete on merit. Today, the entire range is on a par, if not superior to rivals in each given sector.

      • March 23, 2012
        Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

        Yup. Octavia Greenline I drove a few weeks back was one of the best all-rounders I’ve yet driven. Looking forward to having a go in the CitiGo in a month and a bit too – the VW up! is a brilliant car. The Skoda is the same, but cheaper, so I expect it can’t go too far wrong.

  4. March 26, 2012

    I remember the first time I saw a car with a clock instead of a rev counter. It was a mates 1998 Citroen Saxo. What a ridiculous cost cutting bit of turd to have.

    Shall we put the rev counter in then?

    “How much will that set us back per unit?”

    About 48p

    “Oh right I guess unless there are any other options?”

    Well Sir, Jones had a idea on how would could reduce unit costs

    “Go on…”

    We just fit a clock instead


    Just a great big f**king clock

    “Right, what’s the unit cost?”

    12p Sir.


    • March 26, 2012

      Ha! Beautifully observed as always. 😉

  5. August 15, 2012

    Nice article, big thanks from Skoda Favorit/Forman owners in Czech Republic. Still driving Skoda Forman/Estate (I have two of them) – there is always something wrong with it, but every time it has got me safely home.

    • August 15, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      No problem!

      Who knows, maybe PetrolBlog will pay you guys a visit in 2013? 😉


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