Škoda was born thirty years ago. Although it finished work on the preparation of the new Felicia model and at the same time developed the first generation of the compact Octavia, even the aging favorite with the forman still did not have the last word. After the recent thorough modernization of both produced types for the 1993 model year, this time green politics intervened in the construction of small Škoda cars.

Although the then Euro 1 emission standard was already in effect on January 1st, and therefore debuted on the same day as the newly independent Czech Republic, in the production program of the largest domestic car manufacturer, not all cars produced still met the European emission limit. Back then, we lived our own way and took European regulations somewhat with a grain of salt. There was nowhere to rush, everything has its time.

Ecology is never free

Škodovka started a completely new chapter for domestic customers only after three quarters of a year. Since October 1, 1993, all new cars on the Czech market had to be available exclusively in an ecologically clean version. The said decision was established on 30 May 1991 by decree of the Federal Ministry of Transport. From the beginning of autumn 1993, all Škoda cars offered in the country were compulsorily equipped with the Bosch Monomotronic indirect single-point fuel injection system with a three-way controlled exhaust gas catalyst.

For sale is a nice Škoda Favorit from a time when it was impossible to buy.  It has an interesting history and price

At the time, the carmaker made the complex emissions equipment more affordable, but it did not make a very motivating impression on customers – the former element of extraordinary equipment, priced at CZK 21,000, was reduced to only CZK 19,900. But as it happens, every similar step will always significantly increase the price of the car. The engine output with this device reached a visually unflattering 40 kilowatts, yet even the ecological favorite raced very briskly despite the table values. Starting in 1992 and with the then Komfort, Sport line, Marathon and Excellent models, Škoda focused on attractive action models, with which they significantly supported the sales of the entire production line.

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In the world, this action practice was already quite common in the eighties, former limited small models of Volkswagen Polo Genesis, Seat Ibiza by Gabriela Sabatini, Renault 5 Blue Jeans, Citroën AX Sport, Lancia Y10 Fila or Fiat Panda by Sergio Tacchini are almost auctioned today by collectors. And that this colorfully attractive offering really paid off for Škoda is evidenced by the final sales of the Favorit/Forman series – almost every tenth car sold came from a limited promotional series.

Blaupunkt and the catalyst

At the same time, one of the most meaningful limited editions promoted the transition to the new standard equipment of Škoda cars with a three-way controlled catalytic converter. Today, it is hard to believe that the original favorites – famous for listing waiting lists, self-governments and spending the night for desperate applicants in front of Mototechna stores – still used a simple carburettor with a distributor.

Action propagator of the modern emission system was born at Škoda’s Vrchlab plant in a series of three thousand, numerically fairly divided between the Favorit and Forman types. New products inspired by the successful Black line and Silver line types were additionally labeled Green line. They were introduced exactly 30 years ago and their main distinguishing feature was an attractive green pastel paint. This was an exclusive choice for Green line models and, on the other hand, an unavailable shade for other Škoda cars. The body color logically symbolized harmony with nature.

At the same time, the ecology game at that time was far from being as naive as the current one, symbolized by “all-purpose” electric cars, often indirectly powered by fuel produced by coal and nuclear power plants… And because each of the successful action Škoda cars was always something exclusive and attractive, in the case of the Green line models, the automaker decorated she embellished the body with colorful stickers with the graphic name of the specification and the wheels with decorative large-area covers. Of course, there were also effective washers for the main headlights.

Inside, exclusive seat covers with a subtle purple-green motif, reminiscent of the successful Silver line models, awaited the crew of the bright green Škoda. Not only did they look nice, but they also have a fabric that is very pleasant to look at. What are we going to talk about, in the interiors of both body versions, it won us over at first glance even now, thirty years after its premiere. The Strakonice upholsterers did a really great job back then.

The first ride with the improved Škoda Enyaq in the frosty Alps: Faster to the new year

However, the biggest interior bonus for passengers was the standard installation of a Blaupunkt Boston car radio with rich equipment: a digital display, five radio station presets, a cassette player and coding. Original audio in Škoda cars used to be a very expensive splurge in the 1990s, after all, you had to pay extra for the radio even in the most luxurious Octavia 1.8 SLX with a price tag of almost half a million.

There, however, the Blaupunkt Casablanca was already protected by a fashionable pull-out card. Old Škoda drawer car radios are rare even today – try to find a well-preserved (and mainly functional) product today.

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THE ONLY DIRECT SUCCESSOR

The legacy of the Green line models inspired Škoda fifteen years later to launch the entire Greenline range, which gradually included the ecologically motivated models Fabia, Octavia, Roomster, Yeti and Superb. The small Fabia, as a distant successor to the favorites and formans, was delivered in the Greenline version from 2008 in both body styles. In addition to reduced clearance and other elements that reduce aerodynamic drag, it was mainly characterized by a diesel three-cylinder 1.4 TDI/59 kW.

Since 2010, the Fabia Greenline hatchback has become the only Skoda available in the country with a 1.2 TDI/55 kW engine. The unit with a cast-iron block and particulate filter boasted a claimed average of 3.4L/100km. However, the hatchback with the unsightly rear roof was not free – compared to the equally powerful Fabia Classic 1.6 TDI, it cost a significant CZK 37,000 more

Interest in rarity is on the rise

The factory-unspecified Škoda Favorit in the ecological action version Green line of the 1994 model year cost exactly 199,900 CZK, the Forman station wagon came to 237,200 CZK. Compared to the basic Favorit LX, the green novelty customer paid a paltry 6,700 CZK, on ​​the other hand, compared to the luxury model GLX, the limited series was a substantial 22,900 crowns cheaper. But the just-mentioned last model year of the favorite really messed with car prices, against the spring of 1993, the standard favorite jumped by a whopping 44,750 CZK.

In both cases, however, quickly forget about the basic Favorit 136 L from 1989 at a price of 84,600 CZK, because in the last two years of production and in anticipation of the successor Felicia, so many things have changed on the classic basis that in many areas it was already a completely different car – new the LX and GLX models boasted a completely redesigned interior, where the archaic brown color was replaced by a fashionable black shade, more comfortable seats, safety reinforcements in the doors, an improved brake system or a change in the spacing of the wheel bolts.

The Peugeot 405 was Gallic luxury at the price of three favourites.  The French Mercedes was sold almost all over the world

In addition, at the end of their production career, the Favorit and the Forman station wagon got a friendlier and more sympathetic face with a horizontal slit in the radiator grille, which we have not seen to this day. We are not surprised that collectors are currently looking for the latest models in addition to the original, socialist pieces. For example, the limited specifications of Solitaire, Silver line, Black line or Forman Million Edition are especially valued. And it is the Green line version that breathes on their backs. In short, the 1990s used to be an era of unlimited freedom and colorful colors.

New historical documentation

We are now standing in an alley in Central Bohemia, and although the temperature of a Monday afternoon in September is more reminiscent of a hot summer, the slowly yellowing leaves on the trees already herald the approach of autumn. We are holding a thirty-year-old photo from the official collection in our hands and, with the assistance of both car owners, we are trying to arrange the same environment as our predecessors in the same place exactly thirty years ago. At the same time, however, we immediately understand the current social status of the Škoda Green line – they are no longer used for everyday driving, they are part of the private car collections of both owners.

And the fact that they were perfectly prepared for today’s event is evidenced, for example, by the hand-made signs in the license plate frames, exactly corresponding to the thirty-year-old presentation originals. Since the original green line, based on the cheap LX version, did not abound in equipment, accessories from better variants on preserved cars are not surprising. It is commendable that, despite the era of wild tuning, we can only find expensive original accessories of the time on both cars.

Thanks to the increased spacing of 100 mm, the favorite can boast of the elegant alloy wheels from the later action Felicia Magic. In turn, Forman indulges in a rear spoiler from the Marathon model and smoked group lamps from the most expensive limited edition favorites of the time. At the same time, these components from limited series are among the most difficult to find components today. Surprisingly, however, there is no problem in finding original decorative stickers, even in the case of unknown editions intended for export markets.

The rare Škoda Favorit Sedan is an unfulfilled limousine dream.  It could have been a blockbuster, in the end only two pieces were made

In some action Škoda cars, for example Felicia Pacific or Trumf, they were able to fade to a uniform white spot after just a few seasons. Today, the original advertising photo of the Green line models from 1993 resembles a samizdate work, the image full of unwanted reflections and dark shadows already looks a bit amateurish through the current lens. Nevertheless, the magic of the old days has not yet drained from him. And as it happens, creating historical works using modern methods is more complex and demanding than the original many years ago.

In a cast of four, we compare reality with the photo from many angles, until we finally find that we will never achieve the clockwork precision of unification anyway. And when we have already undertaken this task, we immediately create a so-called press kit, i.e. a complete photo collection. Judge for yourself from our details how well the modern presentation of the first ecologically motivated Škoda succeeded.

A logic puzzle

In connection with the limited series of green favorites, I still remember an inquisitive rhetorical question from the Czech press at the time: “Škodovka is preparing a new action model Green line. Can you guess what color it will be?” The logical puzzle looked tricky – after all, three years before, the Peugeot 309 Green was presented, delivered exclusively in white paint.

Škoda, however, achieved its campaign name, and in addition submitted to meeting the new emission limits. For me, this limited edition is the most meaningful of all action favorites. And I consider it almost a miracle that we managed to get both body versions in pristine condition on the threshold of this fall.

Škoda Favorit Greenline: Technical data
Motor In-line four-cylinder in front across
Stroke volume (cm3) 1289
Highest power (kW/min) 40/4500
Torque (Nm/min) 99/3000
Transmission five-speed manual
Tree front wheels
Brakes front disc, rear drum
Wheelbase (mm) 2450
External dimensions (mm) 3815 x 1620 x 1415
Maximum speed (km/h) 140
Acceleration (s) 17,0
Tank volume (l) 42

The article was published in Auto Tip Klassik 11/2023. You can buy the magazine at ikiosek.cz.