The Skoda Trekka is the Sixties SUV you’ve never heard of | Top Gear
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Saturday 25th March

The Skoda Trekka is the Sixties SUV you’ve never heard of

The Yeti wasn’t Skoda’s first off-roady thing. Meet the Sixties SUV made in – but of course – New Zealand

Skoda Trekka SUV
  • Who decided to make a DIY Defender?

    Skoda Trekka

    No mocking, please. Even though this is a Skoda from the olden days, and therefore an object traditionally the butt of half-baked jokes. This is a Skoda Trekka, and it’s a rather majestic device which we’d forgive you for only just discovering today. Because we’ve only just discovered it today.

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  • What lies beneath?

    Skoda Trekka

    Born in 1966, it’s based upon a contemporary Octavia. A car which was really quite pretty in that sort of generic, round-headlamped classic sort of way. Fun fact – the Octavia in question is so named because it was the eighth car Skoda built after WW2. Though if that’s the sort of question asked at your local pub quiz, we’d suggest choosing a different drinking hole.

  • So this is the first Czech SUV.

    Skoda Trekka

    Um, not strictly. Because the Trekka was actually built in New Zealand. A whole box of core Octavia bits – engine, gearbox, axles – was shipped, presumably lengthily, the 11,000 miles from Mlada Boleslav to Otahuhu on NZ’s north island. They were fitted to a shortened chassis – with a new, much boxier body placed on top – as a tie-up between local companies, Skoda’s Kiwi importer and Skoda itself.

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  • What powered it?

    Skoda Trekka

    A 1,221cc engine (sounds more glamorous than ‘1.2’, huh?) served up an extremely modest 46bhp, some 20 or so horsepower short of a Land Rover from the same period. Skoda was more proud of the Trekka’s independent suspension, however, while a synchronised four-speed gearbox allowed a 68mph top speed – 3mph up on the Defender’s forerunner.

  • You mean the Land Rover which it looks an awful lot like?

    Skoda Trekka

    That’s the one. And perusing a Trekka brochure does nothing to quieten any feelings of similarity. You could have hard and soft tops, 'short' or 'estate' versions, two to eight seats, there was a pick-up… Much like walking into a Skoda showroom currently presents you with the mild disarray of too many SUVs all at once, so did walking into Skoda Auckland and simply learning of your ability to buy a Trekka.

  • How many people took the opportunity?

    Skoda Trekka rear lights

    Skoda told a grand total of 3,000 Trekkas over the course of its six-year life. “The model was loved by customers in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa and Vietnam,” we’re told. Very few made their way to Europe, but one lives in Skoda’s Czech museum, at least. The fact Skoda didn’t make another outwardly off-road ready model until 2009’s Yeti suggests the Trekka didn’t make waves upon its launch. But with looks this delightfully prosaic, is that not a shame?

  • It’s so blocky I could make one out of Lego.

    Skoda Trekka Lego Ideas

    You’re absolutely right, because if this creation gets enough support on the Lego Ideas website, it might just become an actual kit sold in shops (and presumably not just in New Zealand). Where it’ll fit in a Lego range that already includes an actual Defender, we don’t quite know. Though throw in the chance to also make its Octavia base car from the same box and perhaps we’re sold on it...

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