1000 MBX has a bold design and a look at the markets in the West. But she also died with the Prague Spring
In the late 1950s, as the economies of Eastern European countries began to recover from the post-war collapse, there was talk everywhere of creating affordable, mass-produced cars to reduce dependence on imports from the West. The result of these plans was a real boom of new models in the 60’s: Moskvich 408 in the USSR, Wartburg and Trabant in the GDR … and Skoda 1000 MB in Czechoslovakia.
Skoda 1000 MBX is a model for free-thinking and artistic design at a time when all other models from the social camp are completely subordinated to the function
But there is a visible difference between them: if elsewhere practical, spartan models are made (according to the great motto of Ostap Bender: “The car is not a luxury, but a vehicle”), the Czechs allow themselves the same freedom of thought that will later lead to the Prague Spring. Its manifestation is the 1000 MBX variant – a two-door coupe with pronounced sporty features, which is completely in line with the latest screams of fashion beyond the Iron Curtain (the many tricks applied by the designers can be seen in the gallery below the article).
Skoda 1000 MB (short for Mlada Boleslav, where the factory is) was conceived in the second half of the 50’s as the first truly mass model in the history of the brand. For this purpose, Skoda abandoned the tested construction with a tubular frame and decided to rely on a self-supporting, type “monocoque”. The task before the designers is the car should be light, not more than 700 kg, and economical – with a consumption of 6-7 liters per 100 km.
1000 MB also sells quite well in some western markets, such as the UK. The goal of the more prestigious MBX version is to increase the brand’s reputation
The last two requirements virtually eliminate the option of front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive, not to mention that it would make production much more expensive. It was decided that the new model would have a rear engine and rear-wheel drive – a modern scheme at the time, used by models such as VW Beetle, NSU Prinz, Renault Dauphine, Fiat 500, Simca 1000 and even Chevrolet Corvair. Adequate construction and nice design really allow Skoda to increase its exports to 55,000 cars a year – an absolute record in the history of the brand. A large part of exports is to Western markets such as the UK, where 1,000 MB costs £ 579 – cheaper than the Ford Cortina 1200 (£ 592) or similarly designed Hillman Minx Deluxe (£ 636).
The clean but comfortable interior is not inferior – and even superior – most Western competitors in this class
But company executives know they also need a more prestigious model to build a reputation in foreign markets. In the past, they made two-door convertibles based on their production models, but for MB with its self-supporting construction, this would require a lot of design changes and would make the car much more expensive.
That’s why the Czechs are satisfied with a two-door hardtop coupe and the panorama rear window, which was so modern at the time. This is how the Skoda 1000 MBX was born.
The engine is a one-liter, with 52 horsepower maximum power at 4200 rpm, with a compression ratio of 9.0 and a pair of Jikov carburetors. The gearbox is manual, with 4 gears. In 1967, the 1100 MBX version appeared, now with a displacement of 1.1 liters. It has not two, but only one carburetor, which greatly simplifies the adjustment. The degree of compression is reduced to 8.5 and the torque reaches 81 Nm.
The new model debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1966 and aroused enviable interest. It is initially powered by a one-liter gasoline engine with 4 cylinders and a maximum power of 52 horsepower. With a total weight of only 815 kg, this is not a small amount. Moskvich-408 has two horses less, and its maximum speed is lower (120 km / h against 127 km / h for Skoda).
Later, the 1100 MBX variant appeared, with a 1.1-liter engine. Both versions are assembled by hand in a separate workshop in Mlada Boleslav, and their production is a rather slow process.
Another significant advantage of this car is the smooth ride. Fully independent spring suspension and large wheels with high-profile tires absorb all bumps in the road well. It feels like a car of a much higher class.
Although indirectly, the MBX series is a victim of the same Prague Spring that has already been mentioned. In the spring of the following year, 1969, the reformer Alexander Dubcek was officially removed and replaced by Gustav Husak. And free thinking – including in the automotive sector – is no longer encouraged. In place of 1000 MB comes the new generation Skoda 100/110 – quite similar in construction, but much more restrained and utilitarian in design.
In the following decades, there were several sporadic attempts to launch a more “chic” car, but none of them had the charm or success of the MBX. Only 2517 units have been produced from this charming car – 1403 of the 1000 MBX variant and another 1114 of the 1100 MBX variant. This is the rarest of the mass-produced Skoda after the war, and today collectors are willing to pay substantial sums for well-preserved specimens. Recently, a 1,100 MBX sold for 54,000 euros.
The most interesting solutions for Skoda MBX (GALLERY):