Rare Rides: This Skoda 120 From 1985 is Red, Like the Communism That Built It

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides this skoda 120 from 1985 is red like the communism that built it
Late last week, on our Rare Rides entry for the Renault Alliance GTA, commenter scott25 alerted me to a Skoda he spotted on Kijiji (which is what eBay is called in Canada or something). As most people in North America have likely never seen a Skoda, this odd little sedan should do nicely as today’s Rare Ride.Come along, comrades.
If this bright red Skoda looks a little archaic, that’s because it is. Strolling onto the world market back in 1976, the Skoda 120 (known as the Estelle in other markets) rode on the same platform as its predecessor, the 110, which debuted in 1969. Going against the natural grain for sedans, the 120 is rear-engined and rear-drive. Most are familiar with this sporting layout in the Porsche 911, though there are a few differences between this and the Porsche.Popular enough around the world to keep it going, the 120 soldiered on until the end of the Cold War — the last one rolled off the line in 1990. A welcome relief for Toyota, which had just introduced the Lexus LS400 that year. Imagine the sales fight which surely would have ensued.
The United States did receive one Skoda, the pretty little Felicia back in 1960, but U.S. customers quickly saw to its withdrawal. Unreliability and fuel frugality were of little interest at the time (oh, how things change). Canada however, had a more long-lasting relationship with the Skoda brand. Between 1982 and 1989, a company called SkoCar imported Skoda and various other Eastern Bloc brands into Canada. SkoCar catered to the interesting customer who rejected the fragile Accord for a rough and ready Czech sedan.
But don’t think all Skoda customers suffered in their Red Flag Rides, for our 120 today is the aspirational GLS trim. As you can see, this Skoda has an interior, and a glove box which aligns perfectly. For 1985, the GLS was the highest trim available in sedan guise.
A 1.1-liter inline-four provides the power here, and it sure looks refined. The five-speed manual was a new addition for the ’84 model year, and drivers could barely keep traction with 54 thundering Communist ponies in the trunk. There’s no photo of the side-hinged front trunk in the listing, but it’s huge.Canada gets salty sometimes, so the seller provided shots of the undercarriage — all appears clean and tidy. Located in suburban downtown Canada, the owner is asking $8,000, and I bet that’s pretty negotiable.[Images via seller]
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2 of 43 comments
  • Scott25 Scott25 on Oct 05, 2017

    I just wish it was slightly cheaper, but the price is understandable for how few (if any) others exist in this condition.

  • Skodaguy Skodaguy on Mar 06, 2018

    I have a 85 Rapid that i bought new in 85 and 3 85 120, must say they are great cars. Cars have spent all there lives in SK so are rust free, and all 4 still run strong even though no parts supply in Canada.

  • SPPPP The little boosters work way better than you would expect. I am a little nervous about carrying one more lithium battery around in the car (because of fire risk). But I have used the booster more than once on trips, and it has done the job. Also, it seems to hold charge for a very long time - months at least - when you don't use it. (I guess I could start packing it for trips, but leaving it out of the car on normal days, to minimize the fire risk.)
  • Bader Hi I want the driver side lights including the bazl and signal
  • Theflyersfan One positive: doesn't appear to have a sunroof. So you won't need to keep paper towels in the car.But there's a serious question to ask this seller - he has less than 40,000 miles on some major engine work, and the transmission and clutch work and mods are less than 2 months old...why are you selling? That's some serious money in upgrades and repairs, knowing that the odds of getting it back at the time of sale is going to be close to nil. This applies to most cars and it needs to be broadcasted - these kinds of upgrades and mods are really just for the current owner. At the time of sale, a lot of buyers will hit pause or just won't pay for the work you've done. Something just doesn't sit well with me and this car. It could be a snowbelt beast and help save the manuals and all that, but a six year old VW with over 100,000 miles normally equals gremlins and electrical issues too numerous to list. Plus rust in New England. I like it, but I'd have to look for a crack pipe somewhere if the seller thinks he's selling at that price.
  • 2ACL I can't help feeling that baby is a gross misnomer for a vehicle which the owner's use necessitated a (manual!) transmission rebuild at 80,000 miles. An expensive lesson in diminishing returns I wouldn't recommend to anyone I know.
  • El scotto Rumbling through my pantry and looking for the box of sheets of aluminum foil. More alt right comments than actual comments on international trade policy. Also a great deal of ignorance about the global oil industry. I'm a geophysicist and I pay attention such things. Best of all we got to watch Tassos go FULL BOT on us.