Playing the game “what would have happened” with the Prague Spring and the Soviet invasion can yield a million answers, one of which might be that Czechoslovaks would have been zooming around in sleek, little Czech-made sports cars. The UVMV 1100 GT unlike anything that had been driven before in the country when it was designed in 1968, but production was cancelled by the Communist Party after the invasion. Now, 41 years later, the UVMV might finally be coming to life.
It wowed the audiences at auto shows in Geneva and around the world – a curvy coupé that looks like it’s all about fun, a far cry from the boring, box-shaped cars that Czechs knew in the 60s. Conceived by the state motor vehicle research centre (whence the name UVMV) and produced as a prototype by Škoda, the 1100 GT was a real step into the future. The Czechoslovak car market at the time had its eye on something like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini that would be accessible in price. The model was the 1962 Saab Sonett, one of which had been bought by the institute and was used as the template for experimental production, and features innovative for the time were added, like adhesive windscreens, a plastic petrol tank and an adjustable steering wheel and disk brakes.
But for all its novelty, the UVMV never hit the road. When so-called “normalisation” came in after the Soviet invasion, the Communist Party cancelled production, and the car was condemned to remain just a vision of the forward-looking Prague Spring.
In 1991 however an enthusiast named Karel Horník managed to put a model together out of old parts that a friend had had in his attic for fifteen years. Based on that model, a group of former workers from the state motor vehicle research centre are now trying to bring the UVMV back to life. The technical information is there, but a perfect copy will never be made. What the interior was like is not known, and they have not been able to contact the owner of the original prototype.
The rear-wheel, rear-engine wonder of the Prague Spring should be out of the garage by the end of this year, but will take another two years to finish completely.