Yellow Car-ster

A lemon squeezy concept from Mladá Boleslav. 

All images (c) Škoda

A recent piece of mine mentioned Škoda having a sense of fun with their ghost car prototype from their EGV department. Then I found this. Škoda does have an odd way of giving names to their vehicles; the journalists of the car world (and occasionally those outside it) make mirth mightily with these monikers. There’s no point in naming these magazines or authors as we try to avoid such trivia at Driven to Write. My position is to defend and highlight even, the Czech brand’s wares and fully believe this car deserves it. And it’s very yellow.

The Joyster (ok, ok, the name is childish) harks from 2006 and the pen of then Chief Designer Jens Manske. His ambition was to produce a car not only for the Paris motor show but for the streets of Paris, Prague or possibly even Preston. Opting to “radiate love, beauty and emotion” this slice of lemon drizzle cake may not have made it to production per se, but themes and ideas from the Joyster most certainly did. And not one single calorie was added to your waistline.


There’s more than a few elements of future Škoda models here in the J car as we’ll call it from here. Roomster (yes, another crass name), the Yeti (oh dear), some Fabia in there and even to the electric Vision series (that’s better) this pure show car has led the Czech firm down a pretty well guided path. That sculptured bonnet adorns many a Winged Arrow.

But let’s return to 2006 and what the J car is all about. Jiří Hadaščok was initially employed as model maker at Mladá Boleslav. Hearing of the Paris show model, he offered Manske some of his efforts which were gratefully accepted and got him on the design team. Although the J car’s main protagonist was a fellow employee, Jan Tuček who got the nod, Hadaščok left model making behind and moved on up to external design, “a dream come true” he said. He helped facelift the Fabia.

The J car’s compact dimensions in a three door hatchback style make it look wider than it is. Aimed at youth culture, small families and those with a penchant for the now. Slapping on some lemon yellow paint enhanced the looks; The J screams youth, dynamism and cool.

The side and rear views are the J’s most pleasing angles, age has not been too kind to the front. The LED’s were new-ish then. Of course at the time that front end was more or less Škoda’s but the chrome embellishments don’t float my surfboard here. The side has that elongated affair, quite similar to an Evoque but with the Škoda ‘tick’ towards the rear.

With plenty of glass, since the roof is, barring the supporting material, glazed. All very light and airy – why, inside must be a veritable lemon soufflé – visibility outwards looks decent. That full panoramic roof winds up on the still unseen in the wild, Scala.

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But it’s the rear that has perhaps most emotion and a neat party trick. The tailgate has two levels of use. Level one is an extension of the floor; handy for leaning against when tying up boot laces or adjusting your diving suit. Level two, adjustable by just one hand turns that tailgate into a bona fide dual seat with a 150 Kg capacity. Beat that Land Rover! So you could change baby, fish in comfort or sit and watch the racing cars, parked on a slope above the Knickerbook chicane at Oulton Park in the rain with the tailgate high above sheltering you. Splendid.

When closed, it’s rounded rump is again most pleasing. That vivid line encompassing the lights and reflectors lends some change to the yellow-ness of J. It would also help you find the car in the supermarket car park, a daffodil amongst the mass of greys.

Mass production was never the ambition. The J was an exercise as to what an A entry model could be like, a first timers car,” stated Hadaščok. The wheel design from J ended up (somewhat smaller) on the both Roomster and Fabia Scout. The Rapid Spaceback benefitted from that elongated glass from roof to tailgate.


The inside now and this area highlights the speed of technology. A laptop would slot in and control the car’s functions, heat, light, audio, etc. Fourteen years ago, great stuff, room was engineered to store that laptop and a large digital camera for those bent on capturing and editing your mountain climbing (or abseiling) endeavours. No mention of a phone slot nor charger.

But those four individual seats look ergonomically astute. The boxes on the front seat backs have straps to become backpacks; crustless triangles and Babybels all round. I cannot fault the imagination nor the simply clever delivery but does anyone use these kind of gadgets manufacturers are so keen to festoon upon us?


The press at the time were openly optimistic over the J’s looks, youthful appeal, trend setting ideas and possibly very cheap pricing. Should J have made it to market, plans were for a seven grand starting figure with the ubiquitous ramp-ups probably doubling that.

To conclude then: when life throws you lemons, make a jolly decent concept car, cascade some ideas down the line then place it in a museum for safe keeping. Ice and a slice, darling?

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

18 thoughts on “Yellow Car-ster”

  1. Wow, I want one. They should update the design a tad, include smartphone technology and put it into production. 👍🏻

  2. I wouldn’t mind one myself to be honest although the yellow might be a step too far. Had a bright orange Ford Escort once as a Company Car and haven’t quite got over that yet.
    It’s “ bona fide” by the way 🙂

    1. “bone fide” will have been the result of a stealth attack by stupid autocorrect, I suspect!

  3. This concept dates from a happier time when Škoda enjoyed extraordinary creative freedom within the VW Group, allowing it to bring individualistic designs like the Yeti and Roomster to the market. It’s very disappointing that internal politics (and the need to maximise profits to rebuild the group’s balance sheet in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal) has seen Skoda’s creativity neutered.

    Incidentally, the Joyster would have made a good Skoda, but an even better Saab:

    1. I remember reading an interview with the designer Anne Ascensio and she was saying one of her pet hate is when a brand appropriates a well known design gimmick from another brand and gave the name of Saab without mentioning Skoda as the culprit. She was talking about the blacked out A-pillar which became even more common place later on anyway.

    1. Dave: From my estimation, the 9X study is from the pen of Anthony Lo, who headed up Saab’s advanced design studio at the time, although yes, Mr Mauer was design chief at the time. Personally, I thought Lo’s team produced some creditable work, certainly superior to that we have seen from Jason Castriota et al. But then I thought the 9X was delightful at the time and still find much to admire. Clearly Mr. Lo thought sufficiently highly of Mladá Boleslav’s effort, given the timelines and the remarkable similarity. Mind you, both could be said to have imbibed from the same vessel as that of Lancia’s 2003 Stilnovo – talent borrows, genius steals, as they say. Anyway, the usual provisos apply as regards the appreciation of design being entirely in the eye of the beholder.

      Incidentally, the offending typo has been corrected and in the spirit of new year goodwill, the sub-editor has been compelled to listen to Chris de Burgh records on rotation for the next week, or until his spirit is broken – whichever comes first.

  4. Goodness me; the similarities to the SAAB and Lancia are extraordinarily close. These two articles are from well before I found this site and had no clue to their existence, so it does make you wonder how much over the shoulder looking was carried out. Or was there something in the water at a seminar and all three designs kinda just happened?
    Personal preference puts the Škoda number one but it’s a very close second for the Lancia which minutely pips the Swede.
    Now, as to listening to Chris Rea for a week, I can think of worse thin….no, no, I can’t.

  5. Jiří Hadaščok: a name to be conjured with and one definitely to be copied and pasted rather than having to explore the further reaches of Windows Character Map. On a shamelessly off topic but related note, I recall reading somewhere that ř is the most difficult sound in the Czech language to pronounce.
    To return somewhat to topic, there’s a lot of the late but unsuccessful Roomster in that concept. Sadly, cars this unusual don’t sell well enough and the Roomster is late for a reason. There’s also a little – just a little – of the Allegro estate from many years ago.

  6. This Skoda looks like a cross between a Hyundai Veloster and a long wheelbase Kia Soul to me, particularly in the last photo. Quite uncanny resemblance, Soul rear and Veloster roofline, Soul flanks and front wing. The Kia was an original, has sold very well in North America – one of my my nieces happens to have one – but the first Veloster merely had that Saab/Evoque roofline and three doors plus a hatch and nobody bought it. Both are in second generation now, with the Veloster even purporting to have chassis rigidity better than the al dente spaghetti of the original, all the better to suit its Type N ambitions.

  7. I will go further than Bill and say that the Veloster seems to be inspired more than just a tad by the ‘yellow J’ exercise, mostly in the part of the DLO/roofline,
    but its general proportions just as well.

    Speaking of inspiration, that rear side window adorned the CR-Z
    as well, didn’t it? (probably also a purely coincidental occurence…).

    Btw. that wonderful fold-out rear “bench” is actually an enigma
    – it’s beyond me why it hasn’t entered production yet.

    1. The tailgate bench has entered production, albeit at a rather rarefied end of the market:

      Yours from £264k+

      The young man featured in the photo (who is, I’m sure, polite and self-effacing to a fault) has a bottle of champagne and two glasses, yet is alone. Some mistake, surely?

  8. I think this type of rear window treatment, where the upper part is longer than the base, was very prevalent sometime around the mid 2000s. Who kew the AMC Gremlin was such a trendsetter ?

    On an unrelated subject but one that is close to my heart and while researching the above pictures I came across this really nice roof (!) spoiler for The 407 SW. Usually I don’t even consider after-market spoilers but that’s a nice one, or unusual at least. It’s about 70 euro on Ebay. I’d buy it but I don’t own a 407 SW.

  9. Daniel,

    thank you for reminding. The very existence of that cozy bench suddenly makes the 264K+ MSRP a much better value altogether. Imagine sipping Pinot Grigio at sunset, and having an uplifting conversation about the taut-but-floaty deliciousness
    of the BX16V secondary ride and its gyroscopically textured steering
    feedback. All the while listening to Ducatis screaming and
    wailing on the nearby racetrack. Away from it all.

  10. Well done Alex ! I racked my brain for 5mn to find the examples above but I never thought of the 17. Perhaps that thing is cyclical, like Fashion, because it seems that these windows were all the rage around the time of the Gremlin and the Renault 17.

  11. Gentlemen, I can only say I’m disappointed. The design trope of the upswept rear side window long predates the Renault 17 and is older even than me. When seeking its origins, how could you have overlooked this, er, Classic:

    And its baby sister:

    1. Hi Daniel,

      These 2 cars you posted ring a bell but I can’t put a name on them. I don’ hate them although there is an ‘Ugly duckling’ feel about them. I quite like the way the C-pillar joins the roof on the first car, it reminds me of the new Captur !

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