I still remember when I accompanied a big cheese of Volkswagen to (then) Czechoslovakia in 1990, shortly after the iron curtain had rusted out. We went to Mladá Boleslav, near Prague, to inspect VW’s latest acquisition: Skoda. The place was pretty much empty.
“Where are the workers?” asked my guy.
“We sent them home,” answered the man in charge.
“You did what?”
“We were told to release them.”
“Why in God’s name would you do that?”
“They were prisoners. They wanted to go home.”
And now, another piece of Skoda history is going home: The Skoda Octavia Mk1. After 14 years of faithful duty, the old Octavia is being retired, writes Automobilwoche [sub]. End of October, the last of 1.4 million produced will roll off the lines. If you want one, hurry up: It can only be ordered until June 30.
The Octavia was Skoda’s first “western” car, based on the Volkswagen erector kit. For a few years, Skoda had to subsist on their Communist-era Favorit (renamed “Felicia”). 1996, the Octavia was released, based on the Golf 4 platform (then known as “A4”, to confuse the guys in Ingolstadt, later renamed “PQ34”.)
When the Gen 2 Octavia came out in 2004 (based on the Golf 5 platform, a.k.a. A5, or PQ35), the Gen 1 Octavia was not simply sent out to pasture, but lived on as “Octavia Tour.” For a while, I had one, with a 180 hp (officially …) turbocharged engine, and nothing on the outside. Fun on the Autobahn, to hustle Porsche drivers with. In many countries, it performed its civic duty as a taxi, or as a cop car (sometimes with said 180 hp engine …)
Unassuming, well made, reliable, and reasonably priced, the Octavia Tour was one of those cars you had to forcibly retire, lest they would live on forever. And as the saying went at Volkswagen, the guys at Skoda “built them with love.”