The Octavia, Skoda’s best-selling these days, is celebrating its 50th birthday this year – the production of the first car launched under this brand name, the successor to the Skoda 440 also known as ‘Spartak’, started in January 1959.
“Our new vehicle has a new name, too – it is called Skoda Octavia, as it is the eighth model produced by our nationalised industry,” says the issue of the company magazine Ventil released on January 6, 1959.
The then existing numerical identifications were replaced by verbal ones – the Skoda 440 became the Octavia, the Skoda 445 was renamed to the Octavia Super and the Skoda 450 was called the Felicia from then on. However, the change involved more than just the names and minor adaptations to the vehicle’s front mask. Skoda designers also redesigned the front axles of all Skoda passenger cars in 1959 – the old leaf spring was replaced by a coil spring with telescopic shock absorbers, which was indeed a major change. “Coil springs were also meant to be used for the rear axle, but did not prove to be a good solution, and so the Company stuck to the leaf springs in the end,” adds LukáS Nachtmann, Head of the Skoda Auto Archive.
The name was resurrected after 1989, and the Octavia model line became the first car developed internally after Skoda’s becoming part of the VW Group. The first prearrangements and the first concept car were made in 1992. The vehicle was launched in 1996, its estate version (Combi) was introduced two years after that, the 4×4 version was added later on.
The year 2000 saw a new, modernised version that is still manufactured under the name Octavia Tour. In February 2004 the Company launched the second-generation Skoda Octavia that was then facelifted in 2008.
The Czech Republic’s biggest car manufacturer has sold over 2 million Skoda Octavias worldwide so far, and currently offers a wide range of versions, including the Skoda Octavia RS (sports car) and the Scout (leisure-time).