Before the Berlin Wall fell, Škoda largely relied on third-party importers to sell its cars in Western Europe. This practice was – and still is – common throughout the world but importers that represented Eastern European companies were typically given considerably more freedom than others.
In retrospect, that freedom was far from a luxury. In the 1970s and 1980s, selling Eastern European cars to Western Europeans was a tough task. It’s not that Eastern European companies made bad cars, it’s just that most of them had absolutely no brand image and were unknown to the average car buyer. To generate interest in the vehicles they were selling, importers often used their first-hand knowledge of the market they operated in to offer special editions that they designed in-house with little or no input from the manufacturer.
An example of such a special edition is the Škoda Black Arrow, an aesthetics-only trim level that was offered on the 105 S and the 120 LS in Holland. Designed by importer Engelbert, it featured a host of faux performance-oriented design cues and was endorsed by Jan Lammers, a then-young Dutch pilot who was making his first steps in Formula 1.
Both the 105 S and the 120 LS were given essentially the same treatment. They were only offered in black with red accents and were equipped with a body kit that consisted of aggressive plastic bumpers and a discreet decklid-mounted spoiler. In case other motorists didn’t recognize the cars, “Black Arrow” was written in bold letters on the bottom of both front doors and on a red piece of trim mounted in the middle of the grille. 13-inch alloy wheels added a finishing touch to the appearance.
On the inside, the Black Arrow cars came standard with many features that were optional on the regular 105 S and 120 LS sedans. These include adjustable headrests, a radio, a locking fuel cap and two-speed windshield wipers. Buyers who opted for the more expensive 120 LS were treated to an oil pressure gauge and an armrest between the front seats.
Mechanical modifications were considered but they were quickly deemed too costly so both Black Arrow models relied on the stock drivetrain: The 105 S was powered by a 1.0-liter four-cylinder that made 46 horsepower and 54 lb-ft. of torque while the 120 LS benefited from a larger 1.2-liter mill that was rated at 58 ponies and 66 lb-ft. of twist.
In both cars the engine was rear-mounted and linked to a four-speed manual transmission that spun the rear wheels.
Unsurprisingly, the Black Arrow Škodas carried a small price premium over their regular-production siblings. Precisely how many examples of each car was built is a mystery but they were not anywhere near as successful as Engelbert had hoped and importer reportedly went bankrupt several years later.