This is a big year for anniversaries, especially those of a diamond jubilee variety. But as well as the iconic Mini and Ford Anglia, another car is also celebrating its 60th birthday this year – the Skoda Octavia.
The Octavia was Skoda’s eighth post-War II model to be released, and was named after the Latin for eight. More than 500,000 examples have been sold in the UK since the very first 1959 model rolled onto UK roads. The first-generation Octavia was produced in salon form until 1964, when the rear-engined 1000/1100MB arrived. However, with its replacement unsuited to an estate car layout, the Octavia estate remained in production until 1971.
In 1996, with Skoda now under VW’s ownership for five years, the Octavia name returned, with the new model built on an all-new Mlada Bolelsav production line. The range included an estate, plus a wide range of trim and engine options, with Skoda’s first vRS model released in 2001.
A Mk2 model was launched in 2004, and was so popular that Skoda developed plans to create new production facilities around the world. In 2005, production began in Aurangabad in India, with China getting its own production line two years later. A new facility in Kaluga, Russia also started building Octavias in 2009.
The Mk2 was discontinued in favour of the Mk3 in 2013, which remains in production now. The Octavia is the firm’s biggest selling model in the UK, accounting for 24 per cent of annual sales in 2018. Interestingly, around 20 per cent of the cars sold here are vRS versions.