Skoda restores the Octavia that set a Bonneville speed record in 2011

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In 2011, Czech Republic-based Škoda set a speed record on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in a 600-horsepower Octavia vRS. Its record remains unbeaten, and it celebrated the occasion by firing up the car that set it.

Originally painted in Corrida Red, the Octavia started life as a press car sent to the firm's British fleet. Its fate took an unexpected turn when it was chosen as the Bonneville project's starting point. Škoda built it for the G/PS category, and the team initially aimed to reach 200 mph, about 50 more than the speed it was designed to reach.

Getting there required making substantial modifications while still complying with the Southern California Timing Association's regulations. Škoda redesigned the fuel injection system to feed the engine more gasoline, fitted a bigger radiator, and added a transmission with longer gears sourced from the economy-focused Octavia GreenLine. The full braking system was removed and replaced by a parachute that the driver could operate using a lever.

One of the biggest challenges the team faced was that the turbocharged, 2.0-liter TSI four-cylinder that powered the Octavia vRS was new, so there were very few aftermarket tuners who could supply high-performance parts. Most of the build was consequently handled in-house, though third-party companies helped Škoda make software tweaks.


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Once in Utah, where the name Škoda sounds like either a type of scone or a new soda flavor, the Octavia easily broke the 200-mph barrier — and it kept going. It averaged 227.080 mph on Bonneville's five-mile course, a figure that made it the fastest car powered by a 2.0-liter engine fitted with forced induction. This record still stands in 2021.

Škoda celebrated the record's 10-year anniversary by overhauling the vRS. Precisely what was needed hasn't been revealed, we've reached out to the brand for more details, but it sounds like the sedan was raced, washed, and largely forgotten about for a decade. Engines don't like to sit idle for years on end, yet Škoda's mechanics got the 2.0-liter running well enough for the Octavia to lap the Millbrook Proving Ground's high-speed bowl. It gained a handful of decals that highlight the record, though it lost the moon hubcaps it wore as it sped across the Salt Flats.

The company's marketing department could have used the record as a springboard from which to dive into the American market, and rumors claiming Škoda would again sell cars in the United States were common in the 2010s, but the offensive was delayed and ultimately canceled. It chose to focus on other markets, like India.

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