The 1000 MB, a small family saloon from the mid-1960s, is seriously considered to be a little automotive miracle that ŠKODA’s engineers made happen in the hard times of real socialism. In its era, it was a car fully comparable to the best European family cars of the one-litre class, even managing to beat its Western rivals in some areas.
It was advanced for 1964 not only because of its rear-engine, rear-drive layout, but also because of its unibody construction with bolted-on body panels and independent suspension front and rear. The most advanced feature, though, was the aluminium engine block and gearbox case, manufactured using then state-of-the-art aluminium pressure casting.
Naturally, the main mission of the 1000 MB’s creators was to get Czechoslovakia driving a modern car, and also to offer it in the most demanding foreign markets. They were so successful that the production line struggled to meet the demand. Still, they also wanted to showcase their pride and joy in the world of motorsport - and they succeeded in that as well.
A talent for competition
The 1000 MB started out in the A1 and A2 classes, but its golden era in rallying began in 1966, when the new FIA rules came into force. At that point, the B3 category (also known as the GT class) was abolished and replaced with a new, less stringent class B, Group 5. The advantage for manufacturers was that it allowed for more fundamental changes, which didn’t just include changes to the suspension, gearbox and steering, but it also made it possible to alter the engine displacement.
This allowed the competition cars to become kind of driveable test labs, which were used to try out all the technical innovations, including the larger, four-cylinder prototype engines. However, the first 1000 MB B5, introduced in 1966, still used the one-litre, naturally aspirated power plant which, thanks to dual Jikov 32 SOPc carburettors, hotter 280° camshafts, specially developed intake manifold and larger intake valves, offered a maximum power of 75 PS at 6,500 rpm and maximum torque of 88 Nm at 5,000 rpm.
With these modifications, the first competition 1000 MB B5 was able to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h in 14.2 seconds. Given a long-enough straight, it was able to reach 160 km/h and it could manage a one-kilometre drag race in a little over 35 seconds.
A rev-happy four-cylinder
In the fall of 1967, some more interesting versions of the 1000 MB rolled out of ŠKODA’s motorsport workshop. The crew of Václav Bobek sr. and Miroslav Fousek used a car powered by an engine borrowed from a Formula 3 racecar (Type 992). It was based on a production unit, but able to offer 90 PS at an impressive 8,000 rpm. Another notable change was moving the radiator from the engine bay to the front fascia, where an oil cooler was also fitted.
The other 1000 MB B5 was used by Vladimír Krček and Milan Žid. Their car was a bit different. The radiator and its fan remained in the back, but dual oil coolers appeared under the front bonnet. The four-cylinder engine was tuned to produce 85 PS at 8,000 rpm and in the six-hour race at Brno circuit in 1967, its crew managed to beat two much more powerful, V8-powered Tatra 603 T2 B5 racecars.
Before introduction of the new B6 racecars with much larger prototype engines, the B5s achieved their biggest successes in 1968 season. Their four-cylinder engines’ displacement was increased to 1,143 and 1,150 cm3, respectively, and at their hottest spec, they were able to offer up to 97 PS at 7,500 rpm thanks to their higher compression ratio, modified intake manifold, new exhaust, eight-port head and, most of all, twin Weber carburettors.