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Wild car nineties. 25 years ago, Czechs were buying cars that are now forgotten

The 1990s were the first truly free years in the Czech car market for more than half a century. Suddenly it was possible to buy cars of Western European and Japanese brands in stores and even without waiting lists and waiting periods of several years. Škoda retained its leading position, but cars now often forgotten appeared behind it. Recall the most popular cars of 1997 in the gallery.

Before looking at the cars that Czechs bought the most in 1997, a short context needs to be added. A quarter of a century ago, according to statistics from the Association of Automobile Importers, 171,550 new cars were sold on the Czech market, which was also the highest number ever in the 1990s. Last year, which is the latest full-year data so far, 206,876 new cars were sold in the Czech Republic.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular brand in 1997 was Škoda Auto. If we talk today that its share is somewhere around a third of all cars sold, 25 years ago it held more than half of the Czech new car market with less than 96,000 cars sold. And consider that at that time there were only two model series – Felicia and Octavia. Today there are eight of them.

What else has changed since 1997? Above all, the popularity of Korean brands, when today Hyundai is among the three best-selling car manufacturers and its compact i30 series regularly disrupts the hegemony of Škoda models. 25 years ago, the most popular South Korean car manufacturer was Daewoo, with four thousand cars sold. Today, however, very few people remember the manufacturers of the Matiz or Lanos models. Hyundai scored less than two thousand cars and Kia even just over seven hundred cars. At that time, Ford was number two on the market with a considerable distance behind Škoda, Opel was third. Even that seems at least laughable from today’s point of view.

Another big difference was the popularity of off-road vehicles and SUVs. 2,042 units were sold throughout the year. That’s a third of how many SUVs are sold in a single month today. The leader among the categories was small cars together with the smallest ones for the city, mainly thanks to the popularity of the Škoda Felicia. With more than 75,000 units sold, it was the clear ruler of the Czech market. What was the next ranking, or simply a memory of what cars were offered in the Czech Republic in the 90s, you can find in the gallery.

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