Wednesday January 29, 2020
The 1000MB was not the first Skoda marketed in the UK, but it was almost certainly the first to capture the attention of the family motorist on a restricted budget.
Here was the ‘Best Buy In Family Motoring Today’, with advertisements that also remind us that in the mid-1960s ‘underbody rustproofing’ and ‘full toolkit’ could be considered ‘luxury features’. There was also a “Win a Car” competition in conjunction with the premiere of Carry On Cowboy.
And for just £579 19s 11d, the buyer gained a near Cortina-sized car for the price of a Mini. The prospective buyer was probably one who drove a ten-year-old Morris Cowley and were less concerned with automatic technology than spaciousness and a decent level of standard equipment.
The 1000MB (named after the city of Mladá Boleslav) offered both, and the list of fittings embraced an automatic choke, a steering column lock, a heater (fed by the air scoop on the offside rear wing) and windscreen washers.
There was also a radiator blind, reclining front seats and a rear bench with a split backrest to allow access to a small luggage compartment augmented by the front “boot”.
In short, the Skoda did not lack for showroom appeal surely it would be a good idea to call REDpost 3344 and arrange a test drive.
A not overly enthusiastic Autocar test from 1965 referred to its “space per pound” ratio which was what the average buyer demanded from an inexpensive car.
The 1000MB did not claim to be sporting – the top speed was around 75 mph with 0-60 in 27 seconds – and not did it lack for idiosyncrasies.
Some readers may remember how the release for the engine compartment was concealed in a rear door jamb and how the heater levers could become almost too hot to use. But the 1000MB offered quite remarkable value for money, in addition to be rather good-looking.
Skoda commenced work on an eventual replacement for their front-engine RWD cars in 1955. A rear-engine layout was deemed by the government’s export agency to have the most sales potential, and the new model would also feature unitary construction and a new 988cc OHV engine.
The 1000MB debuted in March 1964, followed two years later by the extremely attractive MBX coupe, which boasted pillarless styling and twin Jikov carburettors.
An 1100 version was unveiled in 1967, and the MB was succeeded by the facelifted 100/110 in August 1969.
Production ceased in 1977 although the 110R Coupe was built until 1980.
The 1000MB remains one of my favourite Eastern European cars, due in part to its genuine charisma - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aItyCyCTRfE.
It was also the subject of a truly bizarre sales campaigns of the late 1960s headlined with ‘Will a Skoda have a dramatic effect on your love-life? Probably not’.
It was another world…