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ŠKODA F3, Type 992 (1964): European-class Formula racing car

The ŠKODA F3 monoposto was one of the top racing cars in the eponymous formula racing category in the 1960s.

Jaroslav Bobek won the Czechoslovak championship in 1966, miroslav fousek triumphed in the f3 championship of communist countries in 1968.

Technology adopted from the ŠKODA 1000 MB, 1.0 l rear engine with an output of 90 hp, weighing 420 kilograms and a top speed of 210 km/h

Mladá Boleslav, 29 July 2021 – When the regulations for the traditional Formula 3 monoposto category changed in 1964, ŠKODA was able to respond quickly thanks to the 1000 MB, which was already under development at the time. Three all-new single-seaters competed during the 1965 season with the experienced drivers Václav and Jaroslav Bobek and Miroslav Fousek. The newly established formula class also offered the brand and its drivers a unique opportunity to take on the competition from Western Europe.

At the time fibreglass was almost unheard of in New Zealand and it was not long before he was showing a local boat builder, Jim McCulloch how to create fibreglass boats. Jim was also a panel beater and the two of them decided to go into business building their own fibreglass cars. Peter would handle the design work while Jim would provide the labour, factory space and materials to build the cars. This time the car would be based on the Ford 10 chassis and running gear. Later cars would have a chassis that was designed and manufactured in house.

In addition to the full selection of images accompanying this press release, the 32-page brochure and a comprehensive collection of articles and features on various topics from 120 years of ŠKODA Motorsport can be found on the ŠKODA Storyboard.

The Czechoslovak Grand Prix in September 1949 was to be the last international automobile race in the then Communist country for a long time. The big stars of the Grand Prix on the Masaryk Circuit were later involved in founding Formula 1. At the last race, enthusiasm made up for the lack of financial resources, materials and political will. Under the most modest conditions, single-seater racing cars were built that met the specifications of international Formula racing. The first Formula 3 races took place at the end of the 1940s. In terms of engines, affordable 500 cm3 single-cylinder motorbike engines were used, which subsequently became widely adopted. In 1951, the series was renamed ‘International F3’. However, by the end of the 1950s, the more modern Formula Junior with series-produced four-cylinder engines under 1,100 cm3 displacement had debuted in Italy. This finally evolved into the classic Formula 3, with cars with displacements of up to 1,000 cm3 on 1 January 1964.

In the F3 monoposto, the engine had a displacement of 999 cm3 with a shorter stroke and larger borehole. Starting from the vehicle’s vertical axis, it was inclined 12 ̊ to the left and the clutch was flanged to the rear end.

Between the clutch and the gearbox was the so-called ‘intermediate gear ratio’, which allowed the centre of gravity of the engine to be lowered and thus the overall gear ratio to be adapted to the characteristics of each racetrack. The differential gear had a transmission ratio of 4.44 and was the same as that used in series production. Water and oil coolers were located at the front of the car in front of the driver’s feet. Next to him on both sides were the fuel tanks that had a total capacity of 30 litres. The slim bodywork was made up of several parts and was removable; it was developed in the wind tunnel and initially made of aluminium, being replaced shortly afterwards by fibreglass- reinforced plastic. Space in the cockpit was at a premium – hence the small steering wheel with a diameter of only 300 mm. The unladen weight of the ŠKODA F3 was just under 420 kilograms, with the front axle accounting for 41.5% and the rear, including the engine, for 58.5%.

From the very beginning, the ŠKODA F3 was among the front runners in all its races. At that time, the competitions were still being staged on demanding circuits that had not been artificially constructed; they were also held on inner-city courses with cobblestones and sunken manhole covers. For example, the traditional ‘Mezi pavilony’ race in the city of Brno was held on an improvised track between the pavilions of the exhibition grounds. In 1966, Václav (Sen.) and Jaroslav Bobek took the first two places there with their ŠKODA racers. Jaroslav Bobek was crowned Czechoslovak Formula 3 champion in the same year, and two years later his team-mate Miroslav Fousek triumphed in the championship for Communist countries.

With these victories, the successful career of the visually and technically impressive ŠKODA F3 monopostos slowly came to an end. At the end of the 1960s, the cars increasingly came up against competition from Western European countries, such as the Brabham and Tecno racing cars, in international races. In domestic races, primarily Lotus Cosworth cars prevailed, and behind their wheels were well-known drivers such as Vladimír Hubáček and Vladislav Ondřejík for the Dukla Prague team. Nevertheless, the ŠKODA single seaters performed admirably in the often unequal battles and have rightly earned a prominent place in the history of Czechoslovakian motorsport. The fate of the monopostos from Mladá Boleslav was sealed with the change to the Formula 3 regulations in 1971, which stipulated engines with a capacity of 1.6 litres. As a result, the ŠKODA F3 cars would only serve to supply technology to ŠKODA’s new Formula models.

The ŠKODA F3 of Václav Bobek Sen. remained in the possession of AZNP and is now part of the ŠKODA Museum collection. Miroslav Fousek’s car was donated to the National Technical Museum in Prague in 1971, and Jaroslav Bobek’s single-seater was converted by Václav Král into the two-seater Spider Baghira in the mid-1970s. The working prototype that started the whole adventure was dismantled after the 1965 season and is now in a private collection waiting for its renovation to be completed.