Škoda 440 Polytex Roadster

A plastic bodied Czech roadster has recently been restored. It was one of the highlights of the 24th meeting of the Historical Škoda Club in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic

This one-off Škoda was designed by Otakar Diblik in 1955 with the aim to complement the existing 440 lineup. The 440 and its slightly updated version, the Octavia were the staple Czechoslovakian cars of the 1950s and 1960s. They did not look especially bad and the 450 (later Felicia) convertible was a dream car behind the Iron Curtain.

Diblik moved away from the usual Škoda design language. The end result was a bit strange, but definitely unique. The body, weighing just 56 was made of glass-reinforced plastic – a novelty at the time. It was supplied by a local specialist, Kovona in Karvina.

Kovona Karviná started the production of glass‑fibre laminates in 1953 as one of the first companies in East and Central Europe. At the beginning it focused on special products for military applications (e.g. additional tanks for jet planes) and high-strength helmets for motorcyclists and miners. Fabrication of the first composite components – both for special racing and stock cars – and for trailer caravans is also documented.

Final assembly took place at the former Sodomka coachbuilding company, which was by then state-owned and renamed to Karosa.

The car was completed in 1956. Eventually it received a hard-top made from plexiglass. Later its exterior was slightly altered.

Naturally serial production was out of the question. The prototype lingered at Karosa, then it was sold off. It went to various owners, before it ended up in Hradec Kralove, at a local collector who restored it with help from the Karosa company.

Sources:
Skoda Historic Fan Club
Detailed article in German by Zwischengas
The current owners’recollection

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