Few people know that the modern Skoda Rapid has two ancestors to thank for, the original model, produced from 1935 to 1947, and a rear-engine and rear-wheel drive coupe assembled between 1984 and 1990.
Even fewer are aware that the first-ever Skoda to wear the Rapid moniker completed a 27,700 km (17,212 miles) trip around the world 80 years ago, an expedition led by Prague entrepreneur Bretislav Jan Prochazka, with Jindrich Kubias in the co-pilot’s seat.
Their adventure started in Czechoslovakia, on April 25, 1936, and it went through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and the former Soviet Union, from Moscow to Baku, Azerbaijan. The vehicle, which was slightly adjusted for the globe-trotting experience and equipped with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder producing 31 HP, then took the two across the Caspian Sea and into Iran, where it had to endure a sandstorm.
The classic Rapid then went from Quetta, Pakistan, to Mumbai in three days so that it could catch the ferry from India to Sri Lanka, and after going through Malaysia and Singapore, it was taken aboard a ship via Hong Kong and Shanghai to Kobe, Japan. Going through Honolulu, the pair then reached San Francisco and then went to conquer the Big Apple. The last stage of their impressive adventure took them from Cherbourg, France, via Paris and Nuremberg, back to Prague, after 97 days that involved 44 days of driving.
During the trip, the Skoda Rapid crossed Europe, Asia and North America, and it was driven, in the longest stage, 1,000 km (621 miles) per day, and in the shortest one, 50 km (31 miles). It drank 2,820 liters of fuel (745 US gallons), achieving an average consumption of 10.2 lt/100 km (23.06 mpg US), and a total of 54 liters of oil were poured in its engine.