Rally driver Jan Kopecky got behind the wheel of this year’s student designed Skoda Slavia, which has been inspired by the legendary race car of the 50’s, the 1100 OHC, the tiny car with a humongous legacy, which too was driven by Jan.
Jan is quite comical after his spin in both the cars, “On the one hand there’s no comparison. The 1100 OHC is a historic legend and the SLAVIA is a modern car with all that it entails, so the difference is enormous.”
Although he does agree that they share a similarity in the fact that he drove them both more or less in the same manner, the OHC being a heritage car he wouldn’t ever push it near the limit while the Slavia is a prototype which is still in its testing phase which is also not supposed to be driven hard. The historic legend from 1957 and the white spider inspired by it in 2020 are cars that deserve huge admiration, albeit each wins your affection in a different way. In the OHC one can smell the history, its light as a feather and one can feel its engine purr, and it is extremely loud.
Speaking about his experience driving the Skoda academy students’ design, ”The TSI engine gives it real power and a full-throated roar, but its a lot more advanced to the OHC. The car offers more protection from the elements but it is still an intoxicating feeling.” The students get a unique experience that they cannot get anywhere else, they often have no former experience but eventually learn a lot. Their work being tested out by experienced drivers is a reward.
The students have used a Skoda Scala as the base for their work, the students reworked the body and strengthened the car to convert it into an open-top car. While a lot of other components were taken from Skoda’s other production models. The car on which its based, the 1100 OHC debuted in 1957, weighing an astonishing 550 kilograms, the car was able to reach speeds of 190kmph, with only 5 ever produced. The car harks the olden days of endurance racing wherein the components were designed to last, but even then the driver seldom pushed the car to the limit, as it required in-depth experience of the car. The car can be seen at Skoda museum in the Czech Republic.
The experienced driver regards the student car project as a unique opportunity the students don’t get anywhere else. “It’s a great project: the students have no previous experience but pick up a lot while they work on the car. The combination of the traditional and modern, ambitious youngsters and experienced consultants from the carmaker is great,” he says.
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