Tiny Vintage Skoda Racer is Adorable

Volkswagen Group budget brand Skoda isn’t exactly well known here in North America, but the automaker is actually one of the oldest around. Skoda started building cars in 1895. For 116 of those 122 years, they have been involved in racing. A big part of that history is this car, the tiny 1100 OHC racer that marks its 60th anniversary this year.

“The Skoda 1100 OHC is a prime example of Czech engineering and construction,” says Andrea Frydlová, Director of the SkodaMuseum. “The car is one of the milestones in Skoda’s 116-year involvement in motorsport.”

The 1100 OHC moves away from the production-based Sport and Supersport that proceeded it. This is a purpose-built tube-frame car.

At just 38-inches tall but is 56.2-inches wide, the 1100 OHC looks flat and stretched – and the driver looks like he’s towering over it instead of being tucked inside. Thanks to a fiberglass body it weighs just 1,210 lbs.

It’s low and smooth for improved aerodynamics. The original pop-up headlights were traded for fixed lights with smooth covers. The car was capable of a top speed of 125 mph, despite the flyweight engine under the hood.

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That 1,089 cc four-cylinder engine had dual overhead cams and put out 92 hp at a screaming 7,700 rpm. It could rev all the way to 8,500. But to generate that power from that displacement in 1957, aviation fuel was required.

The 1100 OHC won the first race it entered, in June of 1958. Politics of the time meant that the car was only raced in socialist countries, but it found successes there.

Skoda built just two of the 1100 OHC roadsters, both in 1957. The automaker assembled two coupes in 1959, wearing aluminum bodies. Both of the coupes were damaged in road accidents, but both of the roadsters remain in company hands. One residing with Skoda UK, and the other lives at the brand’s HQ in Mladá Boleslav. Unless they’re doing what they were built for – Skoda takes these to vintage races around the world.