The ŠKODA 440 SPARTAK from 1957 and the convertible ŠKODA FELICIA from 1961 will be tackling the 600-kilometre route through Austria, Germany and Switzerland during this spring’s three-country rally. Both vehicles come from the ŠKODA Museum at the brand’s headquarters in the Czech town of Mladá Boleslav. The start and destination of the tour is the Austrian festival town of Bregenz at Lake Constance.
The vehicles of the traditional Czech brand have been at home on the challenging routes in the foothills of the Alps for more than 110 years: It was during the pioneering days of the automobile that the modern constructions from Mladá Boleslav were taking part in rallies, bringing home hill-climb victories, whilst the attractive series models were establishing themselves on the Austrian, German and Swiss markets. The place where these three countries meet has been the home of the prestigious Bodensee Klassik for the last six years. This year, the rally will be held over three days, where the participants will be travelling along beautiful routes through southern Germany, the Austrian state of Vorarlberg and the Swiss Appenzell region. The contrasting scenery is particularly appealing: The historical vehicles will be going head to head from the backdrop of the spectacular Lake Constance up to the very high mountain passages.
ŠKODA is meeting this challenge with two particularly popular classics: an open-top FELICIA from 1961 and the legendary two-door ŠKODA 440, nicknamed 'SPARTAK' dating back to 1957. Both vehicles have already taken part in many vintage car rallies on European and Asian roads.
The ŠKODA 440 SPARTAK, the direct predecessor of the OCTAVIA series built between 1959 and 1971, was manufactured in 1957 and delivered to a customer in the northern Bohemia of Ústí nad Labem. In 1995 the vehicle was purchased by the ŠKODA Museum, where it has been faithfully restored: The SPARTAK was rebuilt to the exact specifications as the ŠKODA factory team used in Czech and international rallies at the end of the 1950s. In the series-production version, the engine produced an output of 40 hp (29.4 kW) with a displacement of 1,089 cc, accelerating the two-door saloon to 110 km/h.
The turquoise ŠKODA FELICIA from 1961 is one of ŠKODA’s great success stories: Between 1959 and 1964, almost 15,000 customers opted for one the chic convertibles of the FELICIA or FELICIA SUPER series – the latter having a slightly more powerful engine. The two-seaters are among the most beautiful open-top vehicles of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The models’ special features include the characteristic tail fins, which optically lengthen the rear and effectively round off the proportions of the approximately four-meter-long vehicle.
The FELICIA is based technically on the 440 but achieves a higher output of 50 hp (36.8 kW) thanks to dual carburettors. Also, due to a low weight of 930 kilogrammes, the convertible reaches a top speed of 130 km/h. The ŠKODA Museum acquired the FELICIA starting at Bodensee from private ownership in 1995. After restoration, it became a true crowd pleaser at ŠKODA’s booth at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt 1998, where it drew the attention of the audience alongside the brand’s contemporary models.
The Bodensee Klassik is being held for the sixth time this year and is open to vintage and modern classics built before 1997. Thanks to the picturesque landscapes, excellent organisation and high-quality participants, the tour is one of the most popular classic car events in the first half of the season. Along the route of more than 600 kilometres, the teams will experience the full range of steep mountain passes with countless bends over breath-taking descents in picturesque valleys that often present the temptation to pick up the pace.
The first of the 180 registered vehicles will start in the Vorarlberg metropolis Bregenz
on Thursday, 4 May at 2 pm. Two days later, the vintage and modern classics will cross the finish line in the same place on Saturday afternoon.