For the sake of completeness, let us recall that Škoda exported cars to the United States mainly in the 1950s and, to a very limited extent, also in the 1960s and 1970s. Between 1956 and 1961, a total of 1,709 examples of the 440, 445, Octavia and Octavia Super models reached the USA.
After that, interest in Škoda cars on the American market declined and only a few cars were exported in the following years – four cars in 1965, one car in 1968, three cars in 1969 and two cars in 1971. Thanks to factory archives, we know that the last officially in 1972, the Škoda 110 R coupe was the only Škoda exported to the “states”.
It is therefore not surprising that the awareness of the Czech car manufacturer in the United States is not particularly high. Nevertheless, there are Americans, mostly car enthusiasts, or people with some connection to the Czech Republic or Europe in general, who know Škoda. And some of them even sympathize with the brand, recognize its individual models, or have some knowledge of its rich history. They just show an interest in her.
Such inquisitive fans include YouTuber Ian Whelton from New Mexico, who mainly publishes so-called reaction videos on his IWrocker channel. This means he watches various YouTube videos to which he reacts on camera. He often deals with works about Europe, on his channel you can find, for example, videos such as “An American responds to why driving in Europe is better than in America” or “An American responds to why American beer tastes like water”.
Quite regularly, Ian Whelton also devotes himself to videos from the Czech Republic or about the Czech Republic. And because he likes cars, he often watches videos about Škoda cars and Tatra cars. He was even so interested in the Tatrovkas that he recently visited the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville to see the vehicles of the Kopřivnica car company for the first time in his life. Of course, he shared his excitement about the experience on YouTube:
A nice example of his interest in Czech cars is also represented by a video about the sympathetically crazy Škoda Felicia Fun:
But we were even more interested in another video. Ian recently got the opportunity to test a Škoda in person. One of his viewers came with the offer to drive a car of the Mladá Boleslav brand for the first time in his life. Ian introduces him as Michal in the video.
Michal, who lives in Illinois, owns a 1990 Favorit 136 LS. The green hatchback belonged to his father and came to the United States from Slovakia.
American and manual transmission…
Ian introduces the Škoda Favorit in the video, he describes that the car looks small from the outside, but that it is quite spacious inside, he appreciates the design, very good condition (the car has driven about 89 thousand kilometers), he likes the seats or just the really basic equipment , including for example manually downloading windows. And he also mentions the fact that this specimen can also run on LPG.
We are also talking about the relatively modest power (46 kW), which, however, is “balanced” to a certain extent by the low weight. The presence of a five-speed manual transmission makes the American very happy.
After getting behind the wheel, Ian first describes the instrument panel, then finally goes for a drive, during which he has to deal with the fact that the speedometer of course shows the current speed in kilometers per hour, not in miles per hour, as Americans are used to. With a smile, he praises himself that he fit inside without feeling uncomfortable.
Ian is clearly enjoying the ride itself, his enthusiasm is palpable. He praises the comfort, the operation of the clutch pedal, the light and precise shifting, the view from the cabin or the feeling he gets from driving without a booster. According to him, the favorite drives very well – of course, it is not exactly fast, but the performance seems sufficient to him. He also likes the sound of the engine, which he says sounds healthy.
Apart from the fact that he is driving a Škoda for the first time in his life, Ian seems to enjoy the manual transmission the most. While most drivers in the U.S. have no experience with a manual transmission, so they don’t even know how it works, Whelton drove his first manual car at age 16 and later owned several. It manages gear shifting without any problems.
Nevertheless, the favorite prepared a smiling surprise for him – when Ian wanted to pull out the window, a piece of the handle remained in his hand… But he said he went back to his place easily.
Overall, the American extremely enjoyed driving the Skoda Favorit. “I will never forget this,” he even declared. And he mentioned that the unusual car from Czechoslovakia attracted enormous attention on the streets, perhaps even more than if he were driving a Porsche or Corvette, for example.
Michal, the owner of the car, revealed in the video that he drives Favorite when the weather is nice and that he sometimes takes him to various meetings and events. People there often don’t know what it came from, and they confuse the Favorit with, for example, the Volkswagen Rabbit, which is the first (and then fifth) generation North American Golf.
At the end of the video, Ian showed off a Škoda Favorit 136 LS model in the same color as the car he tested. He received the “car” as a souvenir from Michal…