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Just What Is It About Skodas? A Personal View

by Andrew Carter

posted in Automotive

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I passed my driving test in 1982 in Swindon. I remember my instructor, Terry, taking my around the 'Magic Roundabout', near the County Ground, and through Old Town, learning the test routes. I remember Terry urging me to keep my eyes on the road whilst commenting on the young ladies of the town, and the appropriateness (or otherwise) of some of the fashions of the day. The Magic Roundabout is a cluster of six mini roundabouts, first painted in 1972, and fun if approached with confidence. The County Ground is where Swindon Town play football, and where I watched my first live match after leaving home: Swindon vs. Brentford way back in 1977. Another key feature of the driving lessons was the line of trees at the bottom of the hill going north out of Highworth on the A361: this is where the Starlings of Swindon went to roost in their thousands in the early eighties, a spectacular, and, I suspect, long gone sight?
What have these musings to do with Skodas, I hear you ask? Well, my lessons were all in a Skoda 120, a four speed manual box, 1174 cc of family motor car, reminiscent in design of Soviet engineering, though out of Czechoslovakia as was. At the time, and during my school days in the Seventies, Skoda was a by-word for rubbish - extremely poor reliability, utilitarian bad looks, poor engineering, and jokes about skips on driveways - at the time up there with Tesco rejects in the quality stakes. So, on the day of my test, Terry gets his new car, and I get to be the first of his pupils to use it for the driving test, and guess what? It was another, newer, baby blue 120 LX.
That might have been the end of my association with the brand, and over the following decades we have seen Skoda become a by-word for reliability, customer satisfaction - regularly in the JD Power top ten for Customer Satisfaction, rather than propping up the table like a Tyne Wear Football club in September 2015.
Whilst the Yeti is a questionable beast when viewed from outside (like so many cars), it's proving popular amongst car-buyers, the Octavia has proved popular as (dare I say it) a poor man's VW Golf or Audi A3. Benefitting form being part of the VW-Audi group, Skoda has really become a contender over the past couple of decades. One of the stars is the 1.8 litre, 20-valve, 178 BHP Octavia VRS, built in the noughties. In 2011 this was the fastest car in the world with an up to 2.0 litre engine, recording 227 mph in the USA.
Interesting, isn't it, how things change, how our perceptions change? Back in the day (as my driving instructor pointed out) a jump suit was high fashion, and Skodas and Tesco down there in the 'cheap and nasty' bracket. Today police interceptors can do their intercepting in a Skoda and everyone shops at Tesco. Who'd have thought it?!
About the Author: Andrew is a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language (TEFL), a farmer with twenty years agricultural (mainly Pigs and Research) experience, and worked for fifteen years in the global automotive industry. He's now breeding bait / garden worms and selling quality used cars, the latter being on show at, the former shortly available on-line!
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