Those in the western regions of the world may not be familiar with the Skoda 1203. This small, utilitarian van entered production in the Czech Republic in 1968 and was mass-produced for nearly 30 years. It remained in small-scale production through 2017, thus cementing itself as a proper icon for both businesses and families.
As such, it should come as no surprise that there are folks at Skoda who love this old van, and one of them is Daniel Hájek. He works as a user interface designer for the storied automaker, and he recently had the opportunity to contribute to Skoda's Icons Get a Makeover series. Hájek has a personal connection to the 1203; his family had one that was used on their farm, and at age 15 it was the first vehicle he drove.
"Yes, I talked about it with my colleagues and they said that if I have experience with the 1203 I could try to reimagine it for the new millennium," said Hájek. "But I also think a vehicle like this would be great for the ŠKODA brand today." Given the recent resurgence of comfy camper vans – especially in Europe – we suspect Hájek isn't wrong on that assessment. So how would a modern-day 1203 get along in the world?
Gallery: Skoda 1203 Modern Interpretation Rendering
The design isn't simply the old van with bloated proportions and rounded edges. This interpretation as a pop-up camper sees numerous styling cues that pay homage to the original, but Hájek was keen to make this new 1203 stand on its own. The rounded headlights and protruding edges for the roofline and radiator grille are influences from the classic van, and the inward-sloping roof is a tribute to the original 1203's narrow width.
“I wanted it to be clear from my study that this is the same vehicle, but I didn’t want it to be too obviously retro," he said. "I designed a modern vehicle that pays homage to the legend.”
Curiously, the 1203's dash layout is very minimalist and even lacks a touchscreen infotainment system. That's surprising considering Hájek's role in user interface design, but for this modern van, he envisions connectivity with a person's tablet or mobile device instead of a vehicle-based system. In an age where big display screens are likened to a status symbol, we rather like this humble approach for a new 1203.
Will Skoda build it? While this is technically an official rendering from Skoda, this is a work of pure fiction. Of course, if it sets the internet ablaze with passion, one would be wise to never say never.