Friday 22th September 2023

Skoda 130 RS (1975): the star on both sides of the iron curtain

1975 Skoda 130RS5

The drivers loved him, the rivals feared him and he earned more respect on the racetrack than any other ŠKODA model before him. For a long time, the ŠKODA 130 RS was considered the best sports car from Mladá Boleslav. The Czech automobile manufacturer presented it to the public 46 years ago. After the successful era of the first ŠKODA rear-wheel drive vehicle, the ŠKODA 1000 MB, modernization was due in 1969 and the ŠKODA 100/110 L models came onto the market. They differed from their predecessor in particular in the new body. Based on the basic version, the designers derived the sports versions ŠKODA 110 L Rallye and the ŠKODA 110 R coupé built at the Kvasiny plant in the following year. The ŠKODA 1972 S Rallye was presented in 120: In the 1970s, the sports car raced more frequently on racetracks in what was then Czechoslovakia than any other vehicle.

the Skoda 130 RS (1975)

1975 Skoda 130RS2

  • The ŠKODA 130 RS was one of the most successful rally and racing vehicles in Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s
  • In 1981, ŠKODA won the brand championship in the European Touring Car Championship with the 130 RS, and the vehicle also achieved numerous successes in the World Rally Championship, such as the 1977 Monte Carlo Rally
  • The performance of the traditional OHV engine with 1.300 cc displacement, built behind the rear wheels, was increased to 142 hp in Mladá Boleslav
  • The original factory version of the ŠKODA 130 RS was produced almost 200 times

With the aim of also doing well in the overall ranking at rallies with international participation, presented ŠKODA 1974 with the 180 RS and the ŠKODA 200 RS Category B5 vehicles. Both were not homologated for races abroad; their main purpose was to help raise the level of domestic rallies. The automobile manufacturer also used them to test new design elements. However, the strengths of all these vehicles were combined in a racing car and thus became a legend of Czechoslovak automobile racing: the ŠKODA 130 RS. The ŠKODA 130 RS coupé (type 735) made its debut on the circuit in Most in April 1975. One month later he started in Brno as part of a European Touring Car Championship in the class under 2.000 cc. The 130 RS immediately took third and fourth place at this premiere. At that time, a five-speed gearbox was still installed, but a year later the FIA ​​changed the regulations and a four-speed gearbox was used in the ŠKODA 130 RS from then on.

Four-cylinder engine with OHV valve control

1975 Skoda 130RS1

The ŠKODA 130 RS was powered by the classic, water-cooled four-cylinder engine with OHV valve control installed behind the rear axle. The first sales version developed 82,8 kW (112,5 hp) at 7.250 revolutions per minute, but the performance increased gradually to 105 kW (142 hp) at 8.500 revolutions in the course of the development of the racing car for use on racetracks. The engine with cylinder and crankcase made of aluminum emerged from the production four-cylinder engines, but in contrast to them had a cast-iron cylinder head with eight valves and dry sump lubrication. The displacement was increased from the original 1.289 ccm to the limit value of the class below 1.300 ccm - to 1.299,6 ccm. The greatest strength of the Czechoslovak coupé lay in its handling: the light, balanced construction helped the drivers in curves as well as on the straights, with jumps or when they literally had to fight against the laws of physics at too high speeds. In such situations, the ŠKODA 130 RS proved itself to be a reliable partner that also held its own against the more powerful competition.

ŠKODA 130 RS also allowed abroad

1975 Skoda 130RS4

Unlike the ŠKODA 180/200 RS, the smaller RS ​​was also allowed to drive in other European countries, mainly in the west. The ŠKODA 130 RS was immediately successful, both in rallying and on the racetrack. He opened his first rally season in 1976, a year later he was class winner at the Monte Carlo Rally and took twelfth place in the overall standings (Blahna / Hlávka driver team). In the 1978 season, the Zapadlo / Motal driver team finished ninth in the overall standings at the Acropolis Rally in the ŠKODA 130 RS and clinched class victory. A year later, the ŠKODA 130 RS even finished eighth overall in what was then the toughest European rally. During its career, the rally coupé ensured many outstanding successes on the national and international stage. In the A2 class under 1.600 cc, the stronger competition also had to admit defeat on a regular basis. Its official career on the domestic racetracks ended in the 1983 season, but the ŠKODA 130 RS was still on the road for many years as a training or autocross vehicle.

The ŠKODA 130 RS has a firm place in rallying and in the history of the European Touring Car Championship. In 1978 the brand from Mladá Boleslav completed a full season in this prestigious series for the first time. Until then, the focus was more on circuit racing in the former Eastern Bloc. When it first took part, ŠKODA took third place in the brand evaluation in a competition against well-known manufacturers. A year later, the ŠKODA 130 RS finished second in the overall standings, and in 1980 it finished third behind Audi and BMW and first in its class.

1975 Skoda 130RS3

While it was widely assumed that this was the maximum that a circuit coupé from Czechoslovakia could achieve, the ŠKODA 130 RS achieved its greatest success in 1981: after a tough season, it struggled with the 1,3 OHV engine the top of the overall standings and ŠKODA won the title in the European Touring Car Championship. The competition was amazed and the drivers of the ŠKODA 130 RS - Zdeněk Vojtěch, Břetislav Enge, Jan Šenkýř, Petr Martinovský, Josef Michl and a few others - secured the attention of the European sports media as well as the vehicles themselves.

can be seen in the ŠKODA Museum

Today, both the rally and the circuit version of the ŠKODA 130 RS are among the highlights of the collection in the ŠKODA Museum, both of which regularly take part in events. Almost 1975 original vehicles were built between 1980 and 200, and several dozen were also assembled from original parts in the then Association for Cooperation with the Army, Svazarm, (counterpart to the Society for Sport and Technology in the GDR).

1975 Skoda 130RS5

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ŠKODA 130 RS (1975): a star on both sides of the Iron Curtain
Photo credit: Škoda

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