CLASSIC CAR REVIEW | Skoda Felicia Fun
Oh Felicia, Where The F***K Are We?
You wouldn’t necessary associate the word “fun” with Skoda. Well, certainly not in the 1980s. Despite a good record in rallying and great advertising, Skoda was stuck in the lower echelons of the new car world. Even in 1989 with the release of the front wheel drive Favorite it didn’t help much. Step in Volkswagen who by 1994 had the first new Skoda models under their guidance ready to emerge named after a drag queen from a movie out the same year (this isn’t actually true).
In 1998 Skoda needed some much-needed sex appeal added to the brand to entice the young and what better way than with a pick-up truck. That’s right a pick-up truck. Not just any old pick-up, though. Painted in bright yellow with darker yellow extremity add-ons, the Felicia Fun was born. To accentuate the pick-up vibe, it even had an integral bull bar moulded into the front bumper and a rear handle bar type non-effective rear spoiler. Even the alloy wheels were yellow. Now who hasn’t cried out that well-known quote from Pricilla Queen Of The Desert when they saw a Felicia? Despite it being based on a rugged pick-up the Fun is about as butch as Judge Rinder and just as crazy as his first dance on Strictly Come Dancing. You can’t help but fall for its cheeky charisma.
To add to the “fun” Skoda went above and beyond with the yellow trim inside too. You got a leather covered steering wheel, gear stick and gaiter, padded door inserts and a splatterings design on the seats. Remember this was all in a bright yellow leather material. And then if that wasn’t enough you also got four yellow dials on the fascia too. It’s all rather brash and crude while at the same time being immensely enjoyable. Dare l say it, a fun place to be in.
This still wasn’t enough. Skoda wanted to give the youngsters even more but what could they give? While a yellow truckman top was available, a yellow piss stained mattress in the back was not. What you got instead with your two-seater pick-up with wood slatted rear cargo area was a pull out rear bulkhead that would further reveal two more seats. At the time this was amazing, and it has never been replicated since. The Fun really was a one of a kind.
The brochure that accompanied the Fun was about as sexy as you could get without fornication actually happening in print. Two dudes in Hawaiian shirts enticing two pretty young gals. And then there was innuendo. “Open up for extra fun” was one slogan. “Two + two = fun” or a foursome in my mind. It was all fun fun fun and there was the sun too. Something the UK sort of lacks on most occasions. So keep it realistic and think grey skies and Billericay.
Like the crowned frog decal on the B-pillar that no one knows what it is supposed to mean, no one knew where the f**k Skoda were going with the Fun. At the rate it sold it outstripped demand of the 300 units originally sent to the UK. A further 300 were needed to meet the demands of the young. Rumour has it there were 601 in total imported to the UK. According to statistics, there are around 267 cars still on the road and 154 on SORN. Not bad for a commercial pick-up that has a tendency to rust violently anywhere around the rear bed area and sills.
Mechanically it is basic Skoda Felicia with a fuel injected 1600cc engine. In practice, it felt quite spirited and the drive surprisingly rattle free. Being one of Volkswagens engines it also means it has a pretty good reliability record.
Owner Matthew has owned Nessa for almost four years after seeing an advert on that well-known auction website and clicking the ‘buy it now’ tag. A trip to a farm in Wales revealed that the Fun was anything but. Instead, it was being used as a proper pick-up truck that wasn’t what it was designed for. The rear bed might have been full of wood but it wasn’t the wood that raises the pulse rate dressed in a Hawaiian shirt.
The drive home was eventful with a failed Lambda sensor and nearing home the back end decided that supporting itself was no longer an option and gave up. After being turned away by several garages which couldn’t see the potential to weld it up, Matthew finally found someone who in essence rebuilt the rear end. Sometimes having to fabricate parts no longer available.
Having returned it to the road and continuing the rolling restoration, Matthew continues, “It was always sure to turn heads! However, you do need to like yellow. It was a car I had fallen in love with as a young lad on my way to school, passing one every day thinking it was the coolest car I had seen. Knowing that Skoda’s weren’t cool I kept quiet. Now I get to drive my own and it still makes me smile every time I go out in her.”
By the end of my time with Felicia Fun l was sold on the whole idea. It makes so much sense. A two seat pick-up workhorse most of the time that could take four. And no one need get wet in the rain with a truckman top. Having tested several pick-ups lately, l thought there wasn’t much left for truck development in passenger carry overload lugging. I’ll tell you were Skoda are with this and that’s ahead of the game. Sadly no one does this kind of thing.
Thanks to Matthew for the time with the Fun.
Gay Classic Car Club for allowing me to ask for cars to try from its members.