Mark Torok says his love affair with Skodas has, at times, got a little out of hand.
“There was a stage in my life when I was buying Skodas like other people buy groceries,” he admits. In just 10 years the Skoda enthusiast has amassed a collection of over 70 cars for what he calls his ‘Skoda orphanage’, many of them dating from the company’s transition period in the 1990s.
The oldest is a 1973 S110 DeLuxe that Mark saved from a scrapyard in the Czech Republic. The newest is a 2006 Superb V6 (pictured) that he saved from re-export to Eastern Europe. His favourite is an original ‘stretched Passat’ Superb of 2002.
“In the UK, people’s interest in Skodas stops at the Estelle and starts again with the Fabia and Octavia of the 2000s. Sadly, the Favorit and Felicia (pictured) in between are trapped in that no man’s land of obscurity. That’s where I come in.”
Mark’s Skodas live barn-find style in assorted farm buildings but his aim is to get them together under one roof. For the time being, the main thing is that they are safely hidden away from the scrapyard. Remarkably, most of them require just basic recommissioning and a good wash.
Skoda can trace its origins to 1895 when it was founded as Laurin & Klement. It made its first car in 1905 and was renamed Skoda in the 1920s. A succession of well-regarded models followed until progress was interrupted by the Second World War.
The firm barely recovered under communism and by the 1980s ‘Skoda’ was a by-word for unreliability. With the fall of communism and the arrival of new owner Volkswagen, things began to improve and a succession of impressive new models including the Favorit (pictured), Felicia and Fabia helped prepare the ground for the brand’s revival.
“My grandfather was the biggest Skoda fan going and got me hooked on the company,” says Mark. “It’s been fascinating seeing the firm develop and grow. I often wonder what he would make of it all now.”
Preserving the deserving
He says the UK scraps and wastes cars far too quickly and believes there’s never been a more important time to secure vehicles such as his Skodas for preservation.
“People say I'm wasting my time but my girlfriend Victoria says they're not thinking in the fourth dimension, as Doc Brown does in Back To The Future. She says I'm creating a treasure trove that will delight future fans of the Skoda marque.
Wanting the unwanted
“The doors to my orphanage will always be open to any unwanted Skoda. I will be to Skoda what the Schlumpf brothers were to Bugatti!”
Scroll onto see the rest of Mark’s remarkable collection…