This is the Škoda Trekka. It’s passed through here before, but only briefly. I’m normally against copycat car design, but I can’t feel anything but happiness when I look at the Trekka. Especially when the Škoda is saying hello again, having returned to plead its case as the cutest off-roader ever. The Trekka is competing against cars like the My Ami, Ferves Ranger and Jimny.
Also, wow, this much coverage from us — as undisputed tastemakers — is a sign that cute off-roaders could be their own segment at this point. Designers and product planners, make note of this. In any case, the Trekka is very cute, and I think that’s down to the simplicity of its (borrowed) design and wide-eyed face.
Škoda claims the Trekka was the first car to be designed and built in New Zealand, running from 1966 to 1972. That’s technically true; it’s basically a kit car that was built on top of a Škoda Octavia platform, which Skoda exported as “completely knocked down” kits that would be reassembled locally to avoid import taxes:
Complete technical kits of ŠKODA OCTAVIA components (comprising an engine, gearbox and axles) were dispatched from ŠKODA headquarters in Mladá Boleslav, along with adapted chassis differing primarily in their wheelbase, which had been shortened from 2,389 mm to 2,165 mm. The body, a team effort by the British designer George Taylor and Josef Velebný, who had previously served as ŠKODA’s head of bodywork development, was then built on top.
The Trekka was supposed to be for farmers and commercial use, but because it came from the Octavia, it was just rear-wheel drive with an optional locking rear differential. Even if it apparently copied the design of the Land Rover Series I, it lacked the off-road prowess of the Rovers. I’m getting Toyota FJ40 vibes, too, but that’s probably because of the two-tone roof.
Škoda claims the Trekka was nonetheless a competent off-roader due to its low weight and running gear. It was powered by a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine that made 46 horsepower and could only go up to 68 miles per hour. Skoda says it was popular because it was cheap to run, getting around 21 miles per gallon.
The Trekka’s “production” run lasted a short six years, and Škoda made less than 3,000 of them in New Zealand. Some of these were exported to Fiji and Australia, and some were produced under license in Pakistan and Vietnam. And it was available in a bunch of different configurations, like a pickup, hard-top, soft-top and a beach version.
I’m not sure whether the Trekka is blocky, bubbly, or both. I know it’s pretty much a brick, but it looks less sharp than contemporary off-roaders. The only thing I’m sure of is that I want to drive one to Big Bend and kick back on that bench seat with a book. Sip a little black coffee and eat french bread with PB&J.