Skoda 120 / Skoda Estelle

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Škoda 120 / Estelle

1976 - 1990
Czech Republic
4 cyl.
1046cc / 1174cc
58bhp at 5200 rpm
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
93 mph
Number Built:
4,220 / 6,600
1 star
There was always been a fair proportion of the car buying public that preferred the smell of a car off the showroom floor, than that of an older 2nd hand model, even if their income was not particularly large. For many years cars such as Skoda's 100 and 110 models were a godsend for these people, providing a lot of car for relatively little money.

Skoda had originally intended to produce their successor to the S100/110 as a front-engined front-wheel drive model. Skoda even applied to Moscow for the necessary license to allow for this configuration, however the application was refused, the official line being a "lack of funding". It is more likely, however, that Moscow did not want Skoda to build a more modern car that what was being produced locally.

Despite having to stick with the rear-engine layout, to ensure it would be even a little appealing to the export market, Skoda set about updating and improving the car, and in 1977 Skoda revised the S110 to from the 120/Estelle model. It was very similar in concept and layout to the older model despite the new body, only the front end treatment giving away its heritage.

So, despite their best efforts, Skoda were once again producing a rear engined model, but this time with a four-cylinder 1046 cc or 1174 cc overhead-valve unit, driving the rear wheels. The suspension was as before, with front wishbones and swinging half axles at the rear, and it was this last feature which had so let down the previous Skoda’s, as handling and road holding was dreadful.

With the 120/Estelle Skoda did make some effort to overcome the overly tail-heavy weight distribution of a rear engine layout by moving the radiator and its electric fan to the front of the car, but it was the changes of 1978 when the spring rates were changed, anti-roll bar stiffened, and steering altered, that its handling became more acceptable by then contemporary standards.

The body shell of the Estelle was one step in a drawn out modernisation programme as the company intended to re-engine it some time after the initial launch. After the revisions of 1978, the Super Estelle offered basic but adequate family transportation, and the top of the range 120 LS could manage a little more-top speed at 93 mph thanks to the 58 bhp from its 1174 cc engine.

Wide rimmed alloy wheels were standard, as was the quartz halogen four headlamp system. Obviously economy was more important than outright performance in a car like the Estelle; at an average 30 mpg overall this was one of the Skoda's stronger points. The cars were initially criticised for unpredictable handling "at the limit" but it is unlikely that most motorists would notice anything untoward under normal conditions. The cars continued to win their class with monotonous regularity on international rallies.

Although, as mentioned, the radiator was moved to the front of the car to assist in better weight distribution, one positive side effect was that it provided much better cooling to the engine. The additional complexity, however, meant that the system was prone to airlocks, which often led to overheating and even head gasket failure.

Skoda 120/Estelle Quick Specifications

Engine: Rear mounted, in-line, four cylinder. 72mm (2. 83 in) bore x 72mm (2. 83 in) stroke 1174cc (71.65cu in). Maximum power (DIN) 58bhp at 5200 rpm; maximum torque (DIN) 6711b ft at 3250 rpm; light-alloy cylinder block and cast-iron head. Compression ratio 9.5:1.3 main bearings. 2 valves per cylinder operated via rockers and pushrods by single block mounted camshaft. Single Jikov EDS R downdraught carburetor.
Transmission: Single dry plate clutch and four-speed manual gearbox. Ratios 1st 3.800, 2nd 2.120, 3rd 1.410, 4th 0.960, rev 3.270. Spiral bevel final drive, ratio 4.444:1.
Suspension: Front-independent by wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar and telescopic dampers, rear- independent by swinging half axles, swinging longitudinal leading arms, coil springs and telescopic dampers.
Steering: Screw and nut. Turns from lock to lock 2.5.
Brakes: Discs front drums rear. Dual hydraulic circuit servo assisted.
Wheels: 5.5in x 13in. tires 165 SR x 13. Steel belted radials.
Body/chassis: 4 door, 4 seats. Integral.
Dimensions: and weight Wheelbase 94. 5 in; track-front 50.4 in. rear- 49.2 in; length 163.8in; width 62. 8 in; height 55. 1 in; ground Clearance 6.7 in; weight 18401b; turning circle (between walls) 36ft; fuel tank capacity 8.4 gal.
Performance: Maximum speed 93 mph (downhill/tailwind/death-wish); acceleration 0-60 mph 17 secs; fuel consumption approximately 30mpg.
Skoda Estelle 120

Also See:

Skoda 120L Review (AUS Site)
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