Based on the original Octavia, the Trekka was launched 50 years ago.

The Kodiaq SUV is shaping up to be Skoda’s most important launch after the first-gen modern Octavia from 1996, so it’s no wonder the VW-owned Czech marque is pulling out all the stops to let everyone know the Kodiaq has arrived. Long before the brand’s first SUV, Skoda’s underpinnings served as foundation for the very affordable Trekka, which went on sale half a century ago bearing some resemblance to the Land Rover Series I.

Described as being a “lightweight off-road vehicle” and quite possibly the first car designed and built in New Zealand, the Trekka was launched on December 2, 1966. Using a modified chassis of the original Octavia Combi, it was shipped from Mladá Boleslav in a disassembled state due to customs and tax reasons.

Compared to the classic Octavia, the Trekka had a shorter wheelbase and a modified axle ratio together with chunkier tires and a more generous ground clearance of 190 millimeters (7.5 inches). It even had an optional differential lock option to increase its off-road capabilities, while power came from a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine delivering 47 hp (34 kW) and 87 Nm (64 lb-ft) to the rear axle through a four-speed transmission.

1966 Skoda Trekka

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Depending on version, the Skoda Trekka’s weight varied between 920 and 980 kilograms (2,028 and 2,160 pounds), thus enabling the off-road vehicle to have a very good fuel consumption of only 11 liters / 100 km (21.3 mpg US or 25.6 mpg UK). Performance was decent as well, with a quoted top speed of 110 kph (68 mph), while the maximum payload capacity stood at up to 500 kg (1,102 lbs).

It was offered in several body styles, including an estate model dubbed “STW,” a three-door pickup with either two or eight seats, along with a soft-top derivative, a fixed plastic hardtop, and even a beach version. In total, Motor Holdings, an independent car assembler from New Zealand, put together almost 3,000 units between 1966 and 1972.

To be fair, we should point out it was never marketed as a Skoda, hence the absence of the company’s logo. The Trekka was one of the cheapest vehicles during those days and was a steady seller in New Zealand until 1970 when import taxes were relaxed and it began to be outshined by other models, mostly coming from Japan.

Source: Skoda,

Gallery: 1966 Skoda Trekka

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In 1966, construction of the ŠKODA TREKKA lightweight off-road vehicle began in New Zealand
› The chassis, based on the ŠKODA OCTAVIA, came from Mladá Boleslav along with the rigid central tubular frame and independent suspension.
› Many bodywork variants, good off-road capability, low running costs

Mladá Boleslav, 2 December 2016 – The ancestor of the ŠKODA SUV models is celebrating a major birthday: exactly 50 years ago, on 2 December 1966, production of the TREKKA model began in the town of Otahuhu, New Zealand. By 1972, almost three thousand of the lightweight off-road cars had been manufactured.

“ŠKODA has always striven for solutions that are tailored for individual markets,” said Andrea Frydlová, Manager of the ŠKODA Museum in Mladá Boleslav. “The all-terrain TREKKA, which was produced in collaboration with the New Zealand importer and local businesses, is a prime example of this philosophy.”

The vehicle manufacturer from Mladá Boleslav had developed the New Zealand market early on: over 100 years ago, Laurin & Klement cars were already being exported to New Zealand.

The ŠKODA cars delivered from Czechoslovakia in a disassembled state (CKD – completely knocked down) for customs and tax reasons were imported by the company Motor Industries International based in Otahuhu since 1956. The ŠKODA TREKKA was developed in a collaboration between several dozen local businesses and representatives of the plant in Mladá Boleslav to be a robust, compact, everyday car for the local farmers, tradespeople and merchants.

In 1965 and 1966, several designs and prototypes were created, which bore the hallmarks of Josef Velebný, ŠKODA’s former Head of Bodywork Development, and New Zealand designer George Taylor. The chassis, which was based on the ŠKODA OCTAVIA, came from Mladá Boleslav along with the rigid central tubular frame and independent suspension. Its special features were the wheelbase, which was shortened from 2,389 mm to 2,165 mm, and the axle ratio, which was changed from 4.78 to 5.25. Tyres with dimensions of 5.90 x 15” contributed to the 190-mm ground clearance; there was also an optional differential lock that improved the off-road capability of the rear-wheel-drive TREKKA.

The front, longitudinally mounted OHV four-cylinder engine with a cylinder capacity of 1,221 cm3 achieved 34 kW (47 PS) at 4,500 rpm and its torque reached 87 Nm at 3,000 rpm. With its synchronised four-speed gearbox, the ŠKODA TREKKA had a top speed of 105 to 110 km/h. Its consumption of approximately 11 l per 100 km formed the basis of its relatively low running cost.

Customers could choose from several variants: a three-door pickup with between two and eight seats, a canvas soft-top, a fixed plastic hardtop, an estate model (STW) and a beach variant. The TREKKA was 3,590 mm long, 1,600 mm wide and between 1,785 and 2,040 mm high. It weighed between 920 and 980 kg, and could carry loads of up to 450-500 kg.

From 1966 to 1972, nearly 3,000 TREKKAs were made, probably the first car designed and built in New Zealand. Export markets included Australia, Fiji, Samoa and Vietnam. ŠKODA also applied a similar concept in Pakistan, where production of the SKOPAK (ŠKODA Pakistan) lightweight off-road car commenced in May 1970. The Czech car manufacturer still successfully sells its models in New Zealand today, just as in Australia and over 100 other international markets.