May 1954: First appearance of Škoda Spartak

ŠKODA 440 Spartak

The Škoda 440, known in Czechoslovakia as the Škoda Spartak, was first seen by the public in a May Day parade in company town Mladá Boleslav in 1954.

The period socialist press ran articles telling the public that the car market would improve and that they would soon get a "people's" car. However, the Spartak certainly didn't become one.

ŠKODA 440 Spartak | Photo: Škoda Auto

At a time when most people's savings were devalued by a currency reform in 1953, and the average monthly salary was around CSK 1,200, a car costing CSK 27,450 was definitely not for everyone.

Moreover, only those who received a special voucher, usually distributed to selected workers by a trade union, could acquire one. Long before the car was delivered, a deposit of two-thirds of the price had to be paid.

The first Škoda 440s went on sale at the end of 1955. It was supposed to be a temporary intermediate type before production of a completely new people's car with a rear engine, which later got the name 1000 MB, began in Mladá Boleslav.

In the end, however, the Škoda 440 lasted in production for almost 10 years, though the second half of its life was spent, with cosmetic modification, under the Octavia name.
The car with its attractive bodywork was also appreciated in the West.

Over 1,000 cars were sold in an export version in the United States alone.

ŠKODA 440 Spartak | Photo: Škoda Auto