The Classic

Nov 3, 2022

On rally stages and circuits all over Europe, the Škoda 130 RS commanded more respect from drivers and rivals alike than any other Škoda before it.

With an ambition to be competitive in international rallies beyond the Eastern Bloc, Škoda introduced the 180 R and 200 RS in 1974. But it was the model released the following year that combined the best features of these earlier cars while eclipsing them in terms of performance, going on to become a legend of Czech motor racing – the Škoda 130 RS.

Making its circuit debut in 1975, the Škoda 130 RS Coupé (Type 735) showed what it was capable of almost immediately. During a round of the European Touring Car Championship in Brno it took third and fourth place in the under-2,000cc class at its debut appearance.

Unlike the Škoda 180/200 RS, the smaller RS could also be driven abroad in Europe, and mainly in the West. The Škoda 130 RS got off to a successful start, both in rallying and on the circuits. It opened its first rally season in 1976, and just one year later took class victory in the Monte Carlo Rally, finishing 12th overall.

In the 1978 season the driver team of Miloslav Zapadlo and Jiří Motal finished first in class and ninth overall in the Škoda 130 RS at the Acropolis Rally. Throughout its career, the rally coupé achieved many outstanding successes at national and international levels. In the A2 class (under 1,600cc), it regularly beat stronger competition.

The Škoda 130 RS also played a part in the history of the European Touring Car Championship. The manufacturer completed the full season in this prestigious series for the first time in 1978. Until then, the focus had been on the circuits of the former Eastern Bloc. A year later, the Škoda 130 RS achieved second place in the overall standings, and in 1980, third place behind Audi and BMW, as well as first place in its class.

Its official career on-track ended with the conclusion of the 1983 season, but the Škoda 130 RS was still on the road for many years afterwards as a training and autocross vehicle.

Its drivetrain consisted of a classic, water-cooled four-cylinder engine with OHV valve control, installed behind the rear axle. The first sales version had a power output of 82.8kW (112.5hp) at 7,250 rpm, gradually rising to 105kW (142hp) at 8,500 rpm as the circuit car developed.

The greatest strength of the coupé, however, was its handling; its light and well-balanced design helped drivers not only around the bends but also on straights, in jumps and when they pushed the accelerator to the limit and literally had to fight against the laws of physics.

In such situations, the Škoda 130 RS always proved to be a reliable partner, and its drivers were able to hold their own even among more powerful competition.