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The Skoda Felicia Fun revitalised the pickup segment, while offering a comfortable and practical interior features
In the past few weeks, we have spoken about some rare models from Skoda Auto, an eclectic mix of body shapes and functionalities, throughout the 20th century. Today, we come to the final model (for now) from the Czech brand’s long and storied history. Besides, very few cars, we believe can meld functionality and fun as well as this particular one. So without further ado, let’s get to know more about the Skoda Felicia Fun
At the beginning of the 1990s, pick-ups were a rare sight on European roads. However, by deciding to add a practical platform truck to the Felicia family with the pickup, Skoda contributed to increasing the popularity of this vehicle segment in subsequent years. In March 1995 a new version of the pickup debuted with the Skoda Felicia Fun. The eye-catching yellow paintwork of this model combined with name affix made it clear what Skoda had in mind when designing this vehicle: a small, sturdy workhorse that could also be fun companion for leisure activities. Owners appreciated one practical interior feature, in particular: In just a few steps, the two-seater could be transformed into a four-seater. By August 2000, a total of 4,016 units had been produced, which today are highly sought after by classic car fans.
Looking back on Skoda’s 125-year history, the model name Felicia had already been previously associated with particularly attractive and elegant vehicles, which not only offered excellent everyday utility but also inspired people with their design from the very beginning. Whenever this model designation is mentioned, fans of the brand immediately think of the legendary roadster, which became the symbol of the little dream sports car between 1959 and 1964, which has since earned its rightful place in the brand’s history. In fact, demand for the nippy two-seater far outstripped supply, with more than 15,000 drivers considered it a faithful companion for everyday trips and excursions, and a further majority of these timeless convertibles being exported.
The Felicia did not have a successor at that time: Skoda was entering a new era of rear-engine vehicles, which for a long time drastically limited the range of possible body variants. In addition to notchback saloons, a short series of sporty coupes was produced, but open-top models with this drive concept did not progress beyond the prototype stage or one-off conversions.
The modern Favorit with a transversely mounted front engine and front-wheel drive offered greater freedom in body design: Skoda presented this completely new vehicle family with a hatchback body to the public at the engineering fair in Brno on September 16, 1987. Studies by designers and engineers of the Czech automobile manufacturer soon followed, including the prototype Skoda 781 Tremp: a two-seater four-door vehicle with a fixed roof for driver and front passenger, but this was replaced by a sturdy tubular construction and a roll bar starting at the B-pillar. The Skoda Museum now owns this one-of-a-kind vehicle.
Eventually, two body versions made it into series production: the Forman estate car presented in 1990 and one year later the two-seater platform pickup truck. At the 1993 Frankfurt International Motor Show, the Czech car manufacturer proved even this commercial vehicle could possess a certain charm, presenting two ready-to-drive concepts with the model designation Skoda Favorit Fun. Both were based on the Favorit series and had a raised chassis. Increasing the ground clearance by 60mm made it possible to take trips across light terrain. In addition to front protection and a massive roll bar, which in conjunction with a roof rack also facilitated the transport of bulky sports equipment such as surfboards or mountain bikes, one special feature, in particular, caused a stir: The rear cabin partition wall with electric rear window could be folded down, and a lever mechanism allowed two additional seats to be installed under the open sky in no time at all. On the remaining loading area, there was then still enough space for cool boxes or luggage. The yellow and purple painted exhibits were visually striking with their tasteful décor and seven-spoke alloy wheels.
The extent to which these two exhibition vehicles resembled the later production model was demonstrated in March 1995 when the Skoda Felicia Fun celebrated its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show. The vehicle adopted numerous ideas and details from the two concept cars and was dedicated entirely to recreational fun. The technical basis for it was the Skoda Felicia, which had been extensively modernised and unveiled a year earlier. Skoda developed 1,187 new parts for it, increased the driving comfort and safety levels and significantly improved the manufacturing quality.
Probably the Felicia Fun’s biggest surprise was in the interior: The innovative idea of a folding and sliding rear wall and two emergency seats had found its way into a series-production vehicle and was far more than just a futuristic show car feature. The refined mechanics, known within the company as the ‘party trick’, were incorporated into the standard equipment of the Felicia Fun. When the emergency seats were unfolded, the depth of the loading area, which was covered with spruce wood, decreased from 1,370 to 850mm. However, this did not diminish the practical use of the stylish platform truck with its sporty rear spoiler, which was always painted in a bright yellow. The following text was found in the vehicle brochure at the time: “The vehicle’s fresh yellow colour represents the adventures the Felicia Fun will gladly take you on. Take hold of the bright yellow steering wheel, turn the ignition and head for the sun and fun.”
The Skoda Felicia Fun also retained the basic key features of the Pickup model, such as maintaining a wheelbase of 2450mm. The length was 4245mm, the width 1680mm and the height 1465mm. Customers had a choice of three four-cylinder engines: in addition to an 1896cc diesel with an output of 63bhp, two petrol engines were also available – a 1.3-litre with 67bhp output, and a 1,598cc with a 74bhp output and a top speed of 163kmph. The combined consumption of the 1.6-litre engine averaged 13.7kmpl according to the consumption standard applicable at the time. The basic version with a 1.3-litre MPI engine in the LX equipment line cost 304,900 Czech crowns, or around Rs 9 lakh at the time, while the 1,035kg light version with 1.6-litre MPI four-cylinder engine and a maximum permissible payload of 445kg cost about 40,000 Czech Crowns, or Rs 1.1 lakh more, with the diesel was costing 50,000 crowns or Rs 1.5 lakh more than the basic model.
From October 1995 to August 2000, a total of 4,016 Skoda Felicia Funs rolled off the production line at the Vrchlabi plant. Today, the models are sought-after collectables because, among the more than 1.4 million Felicia models produced, they are not only the most striking and colourful but also the rarest.