Škoda Felicia Fun

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It's not easy making cars in the Czech Republic. 

But make cars is what Škoda did, pumping out vehicles under Communist rule (in Czechoslovakia), and, after the Velvet revolution, against Western automakers.

They didn't compare favourably.

State authorities shopped the automaker around and, in 1991, entered into a partnership with Volkswagen. By 2000, the German automaker owned Škoda, turning their once novel wares into teutonic bars of LED'd soap. 

(OK, the Yeti is cool. I'll give them that.)

Let's rewind the clock just a bit, to a time when, in 1999, one last uniquely Czech vehicle rolled off the assembly line.

I can't say for certain if the Felicia Fun was a last hurrah in the face of certain German ownership. Or if it had always been in the product planning mix, waiting in the wings like a special edition of Mountain Dew.

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Code Banana.

Although the Felicia (and Fun) by that point had come to feature various Volkswagen bits, including engines, after browsing forums featuring owner comments, it seems as though the Fun was still more of a Škoda than VW.

Do you really think Volkswagen would make a truck where you have to remove the ball of your trailer hitch before lowering the tailgate, lest the ball punches a hole through said tailgate?

The fun is basically a Škoda pick-up in drag – but what drag it is.
— Autocar, 1998

That said, it had a number of redeeming qualities. It had been designed first and foremost like a 2 + 2 lifestyle vehicle, so owners could order toppers (hard and soft), cross bars, and various other accessories that by now are nearly impossible to find.

The lifestyle angle is what attracted people to the car. Its green frog logo, bright yellow trim—everywhere—and cheddar cheesy bodykit said to the world, "Hey, I think I'm fun."

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What was its best feature? The slick 2+2 seating. For a more common reference point, they were a bit like the Subaru Brat, where the seats were fixed in the truck bed, combined with the Subaru Baja, where the bed opened up into the interior.

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For Fun, the seats were always inside the vehicle until needed, then folded out into the truck bed. The passengers behind could enjoy the sun, or in the case of rain or winter (there's a lot of that in the Czech Republic) you had a range of accessories to choose from.

My favourite is the half topper, which makes the Fun look like a badly-sliced stick of butter.

Shit, I nearly forgot to mention my favourite feature: its wood-trimmed truck bed. (I suppose the thinking is that once the bed-mounted wood slats wear out from use, you can cut some more…)

What's not to love though, right? If this was a mainstream car we could all joke about how silly it was to make.

But because it's rare, and a little bit stupid, we can laugh about it while secretly wishing there were more vehicles like the Fun on our roads.

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These days, they're like Miatas in that finding an unmolested one is quite difficult. They're also like the Mazda Protege5 because they're turning to compost at an alarming rate, especially at the rear suspension mounting points.

4,016 were built in total, with production ending in the year 2000. If one of my European readers has the means to put some Fun into his or her life, do it now…

Sources / Recommended reading