A major milestone in ŠKODA’s 116-year career in motorsport, the stunning ŠKODA 1100 OHC racing car celebrated its 60th birthday at the end of 2017.
With development beginning in 1956, this two-seat open-top prototype racing car enjoyed success from the very first time that it appeared out on the race track – taking first place with factory driver Miroslav Fousek at the wheel on the municipal circuit at Mladá Bolesla. Despite a difficult political situation limiting Miroslav to only competing in socialist countries, the ŠKODA 1100 OHC continued this success in many countries throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Powered by a front-mounted 1.1-litre four-cylinder engine that produced 92hp, the ŠKODA 1100 OHC used a lightweight body – the open-top examples weighing just 550 kilograms - created from glass reinforced plastic (GRP) to promote tremendous acceleration and a top speed of around 120mph. Innovative for the time, the ŠKODA 1100 OHC boasted near 50:50 weight distribution and, as a result, fantastic handling characteristics.
Despite the fact that the ŠKODA 1100 OHC is a beautiful racing car to look at, the design was actually heavily influenced by aerodynamics and not aesthetics. Sleek curves and lines were implemented to allow for the lowest air resistance possible whilst the original pop-up headlights were eventually replaced by fixed headlights with Plexiglas covers.
Only four ŠKODA 1100 OHCs were ever built – two open-top examples at the end of 1957 and two Coupe examples in 1959 – but, sadly, only one working example of the open-top ŠKODA 1100 OHC still exists. The second open-top example sits as a key attraction at the ŠKODA museum whilst the two coupes were both badly damaged in crashes on public roads.
In honour of the lost ŠKODA 1100 OHC Coupes, restorers at the ŠKODA museum in Mladá Bolesla are currently working to renovate an example based on a preserved chassis and drivetrain.
Demonstrating a number of innovative features and celebrating much success, the beautiful ŠKODA 1100 OHC marked an important time in ŠKODA’s motorsport history. With the last remaining running example owned and taken to events by ŠKODA UK, we look forward to hopefully seeing the ŠKODA 1100 OHC in action later this year.