ŠKODA F3, Type 992 (1964): European class Formula racing car
Mladá Boleslav, July 29, 2021 – When the regulation of the traditional monoposto category of Formula 3 changed in 1964, ŠKODA was able to react quickly thanks to the 1000 MB, which was already under development at the time. Three brand new single-seaters competed in the 1965 season with experienced pilots Václav and Jaroslav Bobek and Miroslav Fousek. The newly created Formula Class also offered the brand and its drivers a unique opportunity to compete against Western European competition.
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The Czechoslovakian Grand Prix in September 1949 was to be the last international motor race in the then communist country for a long time. The big stars of the Grand Prix on the Masaryk Circuit then took part in the founding of Formula 1. In the last race, enthusiasm made up for the lack of funds, material and political will. Under the most modest conditions, single-seater racing cars were built to meet the specifications of international Formula racing.
The first Formula 3 races were held in the late 1940s. On the powertrain side, affordable 500cc single-cylinder motorcycle engines were used, which were then widely adopted. In 1951, the series was renamed “International F3”. However, by the end of the 1950s the more modern Formula Junior with series-produced four-cylinder engines of less than 1,100cc displacement had made its debut in Italy. This eventually evolved into classic Formula 3, with cars up to 1,000cc in displacement on January 1, 1964.
The ŠKODA monoposto project received the designation Š 992 in Mladá Boleslav – a reference to its technical similarity to the type Š 990, which was ready for series production as the newly designed ŠKODA 1000 MB model in spring 1964. The first Single-seater Š 992 was completed in February 1964. It had a tubular steel trellis frame and independent suspension, with trapezoidal half-axles at the front and five-link suspension at the rear. An advanced solution – even by international standards – was to mount coil springs and shock absorbers on both axles inside the body, which had a positive effect on the aerodynamics of the monoposto.
The adjustable shock absorbers made it possible to vary the ground clearance of the car. Its 13-inch alloy rims with Dunlop tires were braked by four disc brakes from British manufacturer Girling. A ŠKODA inline-four engine with OHV valve actuation and a triple-bearing crankshaft was mounted longitudinally in front of the rear axle. This transmission was produced with many modifications until 2003 and was last used in the first generation ŠKODA FABIA.
In the F3 monoposto, the engine had a displacement of 999 cc with a shorter stroke and a larger borehole. Starting from the vertical axis of the vehicle, it was tilted 12˚ to the left and the clutch was flanged at the rear.
Between the clutch and the gearbox was what is known as the “intermediate gear ratio”, which allowed the engine’s center of gravity to be lowered and thus the overall gear ratio to be adapted to the characteristics of each vehicle. circuit. The differential gear had a transmission ratio of 4.44 and was the same as that used in series production. Water and oil coolers were located at the front of the car in front of the driver’s feet. Next to him, on both sides, were the fuel tanks with a total capacity of 30 liters. The thin body was made up of several parts and was removable; it was developed in a wind tunnel and initially in aluminum, replaced shortly after by plastic reinforced with fiberglass. Space in the cockpit was limited – hence the small steering wheel with a diameter of only 300 mm. The curb weight of the ŠKODA F3 was just under 420 kilograms, with the front axle accounting for 41.5% and the rear, including the engine, 58.5%.
The one-liter engine originally produced 53 kW (72 hp) at 7,250 rpm. However, a gradual increase in compression and further optimizations had increased its power to 66 kW (90 hp) at 8,000 rpm in the 1966 season, while reducing the overall weight of the car by 15 kg. At the end of 1964, the ŠKODA F3 reached a top speed of 188 km / h during testing at the Hoškovice airfield, but two years later it hit the 200 km / h mark.
From the start, the ŠKODA F3 was among the leaders in all its races. At that time, the competitions were still held on demanding circuits which had not been artificially constructed; they also took place on downtown courses with cobblestones and sunken manhole covers. For example, the traditional “pavilony Mezi” race in the city of Brno took place on an improvised track between the pavilions of the exhibition center. In 1966, Václav (Sen.) and Jaroslav Bobek took the first two places there with their ŠKODA drivers. Jaroslav Bobek was crowned Czechoslovak Formula 3 champion the same year, and two years later his teammate Miroslav Fousek triumphed in the championship of the communist countries.
With these victories, the successful career of the visually and technically impressive ŠKODA F3 single stations slowly came to an end. By the end of the 1960s, cars increasingly faced competition from Western European countries, such as the Brabham and Tecno racing cars, in international races. In national races, it was mainly the Lotus Cosworth cars that prevailed, and behind their wheels were well-known drivers such as Vladimír Hubáček and Vladislav Ondřejík for the Dukla Prague team. Nonetheless, ŠKODA single-seaters performed admirably in often unequal battles and rightly earned a place of pride in the history of Czechoslovak motorsport. The fate of Mladá Boleslav’s monopostos was sealed with the change of Formula 3 regulations in 1971, which stipulated engines with a capacity of 1.6 liters. As a result, ŠKODA F3 cars would only serve to supply the technology to ŠKODA’s new Formula models.
Václav Bobek Sen’s ŠKODA F3. remained in the possession of the AZNP and is now part of the ŠKODA Museum collection. Miroslav Fousek’s car was donated to the National Technical Museum in Prague in 1971, and Jaroslav Bobek’s single-seater was converted by Václav Král to a two-seater Spider Baghira in the mid-1970s. The working prototype that started the whole adventure was was dismantled after the 1965 season and is now in a private collection pending completion of its renovation.
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