Published on: Jan 20, 2016 @ 21:12 Originally Published in: 2015 (old website) (C) Jay Auger - website owner & author Notice: Any form of duplication methods (including but not limited to copy/paste of text and screen capture) of the website's content is strictly forbidden.
In 1983, Škoda needed a quick replacement to its ageing 130 RS flagship rally car since it would no longer be allowed to compete beyond 1982 due to the new Group B regulations. As such, Škoda found itself in a tough spot and slowly begun the development of the 130 LR as their interim project. However, a company called Metalex began secretly devising a quicker answer.
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Metalex (MTX) was founded in 1969 at Prague, Czechoslovakia, the company first serving as a repair shop for Škoda race and rally cars. The operation quickly expanded into the production of their own designs and vehicles such as catering to the Formula Easter, also known as the “communist Formula circuit”. It took nothing more than hearing of Škoda’s delays at preparing a new Group B rally car for MTX to begin thinking of building their own.
The rally car’s initial concept is said to have been devised in about two weeks by Václav Král, the man behind most of MTX’s race cars designs. He would lay the foundations of the project on the sporty Škoda Garde model while the actual fabrication of the rally car was entrusted to engineer Václav Pauer. The car’s motorisation went under the responsibility of Petr Kreibich and Miloš Vodseďálek.
The MTX 160 RS project was originally started without the knowledge of Škoda (AZNP) or the Czech government, which was considered as an important breach of protocol in the communist regime. So it was quite a big surprise when on December 1st 1983 a fully-built rally car bearing the name of “Škoda MTX 160 RS” was driven in front of the Svazarm (army) headquarters in Prague, coincidentally where most leaders of the Czech government were congregating.
The gleaming rally car, in Agroteam livery, was presented to the officials as a gift to the regime. It is said that the reactions were mostly negative due to the lack of protocol, superfluous nature to Škoda’s own project, and ire to the engine brand that powered it. Some comparisons were also made towards the car trying to imitate the Audi quattro in its overall theme despite being only rear wheel drive.
MTX’s engineers had decided to dismiss Škoda engines in favour of using the same VAZ 1568 cc engine that was developed for the Lada 1600 rally car and its VFTS successor. The unit had already proven itself in the sport being run with the various Lada 2105s prepared by MTX. The naturally aspirated engine produced 160 BHP thanks to the use of double carburettors, modified internals, and 100-octane racing fuel. The original intent however was to use a turbocharged version of this engine but the company never could secure the required permit to get them.
Changes over the standard Garde model included the use of a tubular rear sub-frame to accommodate the VAZ engine in a longitudinal position. This allowed the rear axle to be moved 100 mm rearward and shift more of the engine and drivetrain’s weight forward, hence improving both bias and centre of gravity.
Engine power was transferred to the rear wheels via a VAZ-sourced single-disc clutch and the 4-speed gearbox from the Škoda 130 RS, although a much beefier 5-speed gearbox from a Tatra prototype study was considered to be further developed and implemented in the car.
The chassis made use of an extensive integrated roll cage and cross-sections reinforcements. The front axle / suspension components were taken from the Škoda 130 RS, paired with a fully custom rear axle and suspension designed entirely in-house by the MTX engineers. The hefty axle shafts are rumoured to have been sourced from the East German truck company, Robur, but were most likely manufactured by Löbro.
The Škoda rack-and-pinion steering system was re-used although a quick-rack developed for MTX’s own Formula Easter racers would be subsequently tested. The 160 RS also made use of the 130 RS’ braking system paired with a new adjustable brake bias function on the dashboard. The battery was installed in the front compartment along with the radiator, fuel tank, and twin 5 kg fire extinguishers for safety.
The car’s exterior was enhanced with fibreglass fender flares to allow more track width smoothly paired with a custom air dam and side skirts to improve aerodynamics. A new fibreglass boot / trunk lid was fabricated to incorporate a lip spoiler and NACA ducts to bring fresh air to the intake and oil cooler. The bonnet / hood was also made out of fibreglass, featuring moulded extractors to aid in radiator cooling and a side hinge system.
Overall the car’s weight was estimated at about 1000 kg (2,200 lb), which was a bit on the heavy side for the platform. However, further development and use of more advanced composites was expected to bring that figure down to approximately 850 kg (1,875 lb) dry.
Besides the mitigated response of the officials at the car’s surprise reveal, the Czech government would allow the MTX 160 RS to begin official testing alongside Škoda’s own 130 LR prototype. Hence both cars took the start of the snowy Rallye Valasska Zima in January of 1984.
The prototype 160 RS, driven by Václav Blahn / Pavel Schovánek, left competitors in its powdery wake in the first few stages, including the factory-prepared 130 LR – leading it by over 3 minutes before rolling over in a ditch on stage 11. Besides this incident, Blahn was able get back on the road and finish the rally about one and a half minutes faster than its factory rival.
The MTX 160 RS was once again tested with Václav Blahn at the Rallye Šumava in March. The car once again proved to fairly quick versus all of the competition present at the event. As before, since the car ran as a prototype it could not be classified in the official results.
The third test of the MTX 160 RS was at the Rallye Sklo Union Teplice in late April of 1984. Unfortunately, the crew of Karel Kašpárek / Antonín Kounovský was forced to retire after the first stage.
A fourth event was planned at the prestigious Barum Rallye held at the end of June in 1984. However, the MTX 160 RS’ main sponsor, Agroteam, was dissolved in the weeks preceding the event. The car was thus entered without sponsor decals and only as a course-opening and demonstration vehicle, numbered “00”.
While the MTX 160 RS had proven its potential in the previous rallies, the project would be faced with major obstacles. Per the Group B regulations, the extensive amounts of modifications made to the car, such as the foreign Lada engine, would have necessitated the need to produce 200 cars rather than simply using the existing Garde production model for homologation.
Škoda obviously did not agree to this proposal, not limited to the fact that the Garde was on its way out to be replaced by the Rapid model, mostly because their own 130 LR project proved to be as equally successful but most importantly less costly since it could make full use of the evolution (ET) feature to gain homologation – which required a mere twenty cars to be produced.
Thus the entire 160 RS project would have to solely lay on MTX’s shoulders to come to fruition, which the company obviously could not afford without official state funding, nor could it even consider building the 200 cars needed for homologation within 12 months as required by the FISA. Hence the project was ultimately abandoned.
The proverbial “nail in the coffin” for the MTX 160 RS is said to have come from the Czech government itself. It is alleged that they never quite forgot the car’s embarrassing surprise presentation, but most importantly never forgave the fact that it sported a Lada engine amongst a myriad of Škoda bin parts. It is said that the officials had then given the car the unsavoury nickname of “Bastard” – a moniker that follows it to this day.
Three prototypes of the 160 RS are said to have been built by MTX before the project’s cancellation. Two of these sported the VAZ engine, with one having its engine displacement increased to 1.8L later in 1984 which allowed an higher output of approximately 180 BHP. The third car reportedly made use of a prototype turbocharged version of the 130 RS unit, on loan from Škoda. A fourth car was subsequently built as a replica of the original VAZ-powered prototypes.
In late 1985, the MTX 160 RS was then rumoured to have been considered to serve as a test platform for Škoda’s bigger ambitions of creating a turbocharged four wheel drive variant of the Favorit for international Group S competition – a category then newly announced by the FISA and originally planned to come into effect in 1988. It is alleged that the idea remained stillborn due to not meeting government approval since the production of turbochargers was restricted to the truck market at the time. Notwithstanding, Group S in itself was annulled alongside Group B at the end of 1986.
(VAZ-1600 powered only)
|Conception / Production||1983~1984||# built: 3 (MTX)|
|Type||VAZ, I-4, OHV 8v, gas||rear, longitudinal|
|Displacement||1568 cc||WRC = 1568 cc|
|Output power – torque||160 HP@ 8000 rpm||133 lb-ft @ 6200 rpm|
|Materials||block: cast iron||cylinder head: aluminium|
|Lubrication system||N/A||oil cooler (rear)|
|Type||rear wheel drive||4 speed single row manual gearbox|
|Clutch||VAZ – single plate|
|Type||Type-743 steel monocoque coupe chassis with roll cage, tubular rear subframe, fibreglass arch extensions, boot / trunk spoiler, and vented bonnet / hood|
|Front suspension||struts, coil springs|
|Rear suspension||struts, coil springs, semi-trailing arms|
|Steering system||rack & pinion||N/A|
|length: 4200 mm (165.4 in)||width: N/A||height: 1380 mm (54.3 in)|
|wheelbase: 2500 mm (98.4 in)||front track: N/A||rear track: N/A|
|Rims – tires||
|Dry/Unladen Weight||1000 kg (2200 lb)|
|Weight/power||5.7 kg/HP (12.6 lb/HP)|
|Fuel tank||30 litres / mounted in front compartment|
(C) Article by Jay Auger – website owner & author
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