In addition to celebrating 125 years since the company was founded, ŠKODA AUTO is this year also commemorating the anniversary of a model: The 110 R coupé is turning 50, and the sporty two-door model is one of the Czech car manufacturer’s most iconic vehicles. A 1.1-litre four-cylinder engine was installed in the rear of the self-supporting body, whose lightweight engine block and crankcase were manufactured using the modern die-cast aluminium process. Thanks to twin carburettors, the light and manoeuvrable vehicle reached speeds of up to 145 km/h. The ŠKODA 110 R thus offered an ideal basis for use in motorsport. This was where the 130 RS came into its own: The ‘Porsche of the East’ thrilled spectators along European rally and circuit tracks for many years.
Sporty cars have been an integral part of ŠKODA’s model range for more than 110 years. This tradition was continued with the ŠKODA 110 R, the development of which began in 1966. The technical basis of the elegant coupé was the 100/110 notchback saloon, but its body differed significantly with its more slanted windscreen, the frameless windows of the two wide doors and, above all, its stylish rear end. The vehicle built at the Kvasiny plant made its debut on 5 September 1970 at the Engineering Fair in Brno. In October of the same year, the 110 R drew considerable attention at major motor shows in Paris, London and Turin. Although the basic 110 R came with a hefty price tag of 78,000 Czechoslovak crowns – equivalent to around 40 months’ wages at the time – demand far exceeded supply. ŠKODA’s export markets had priority at that time, and so in 1973, for example, 93 per cent of all 110 R-type coupés produced were exported.
The compact dimensions of the agile sports car also met with high approval:
it was 4,155 millimetres long, 1,620 millimetres wide and 1,340 millimetres tall. In the rear of the self-supporting body was a then state-of-the-art four-cylinder engine: The 1,107 cc assembly featured an engine block and a crankshaft housing that were manufactured according to a Czech-patented aluminium die-casting process, as was the bell housing of the manual four-speed transmission. Equipped with a twin carburettor and a separate oil cooler, the engine produced an output of 52 hp (38 kW). The ŠKODA 110 R running on 165 SR 14 radial tyres reached a top speed of 145 km/h. A powerful dual-circuit braking system was used, which relied on brake discs from the British company Dunlop on the front axle and drum brakes on the rear axle. The weight distribution of the very light two-door model, weighing in at 880 kilograms, had a very positive effect on driving performance. As up to 57 per cent of the mass was over the driven rear wheels when fully loaded, the 110 R scored points with excellent traction even on snowy slopes.
In the interior, sporty visual accents underscored the dynamic character of the vehicle. The dashboard with a wood-effect finish featured five round instruments. The driver would only enter the red zone of the tachometer at 5,750 revs, and the speedometer went up to 180 km/h. There were also displays for the engine oil pressure, the cooling water temperature and the fuel gauge. Standard equipment included a sports steering wheel with two metal spokes, which for weight reduction had dynamic holes, and anatomically shaped front seats. These could be folded forwards to make accessing the two rear seats easier. Behind the rear backrests was a larger storage area, with a luggage compartment under the front bonnet.
Throughout the ten-year construction period, ŠKODA continuously updated the 110 R. Soon, four headlights and a spoiler would characterise the front end, the front seats were fitted with headrests, and the wheels had a smaller 13-inch diameter, which reflected the fashion of the time. By 30 December 1980, a total of 57,085 units of the coupé had left the Kvasiny plant. Today, the vehicles are sought-after collector’s items and are traded accordingly. The 110 R succeeded the ŠKODA GARDE in 1981, and this was followed in 1984 by the RAPID, which was built until 1990.
The ŠKODA 110 R also served as a basis for a number of successful racing cars from Mladá Boleslav. These included the ŠKODA180 RS and 200 RS models powered by OHC engines with overhead valves and the ŠKODA 130 RS, one of the most successful racing cars of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In the up to 1300cc category, for example, the ‘Porsche of the East’ dominated the 1981 European Touring Car Championship and also took numerous class victories in rallying, such as the 1977 Monte Carlo Rally.