Fiat 126 is a small city car that was first been launched in 1972 at the Turin Motor Show. The highly popular Fiat 500 was replaced by the Fiat 126. Later on the Fiat 126 was replaced by the Fiat Cinquecento, which was a front engine, in 1993. The 126 was produced in Poland as the Polski Fiat 126p until the year 2000.
Specifications of the Fiat 126
Fiat 126 had many of the same mechanical specifications as the Fiat 500 as well as the same wheel base, however, the body shell was newly designed was more similar to the 127. The capacity of the engine was initially 594 cc and was later changed to 652 cc in 1977. The cylinder bore was also increased to 77mm from 73.5 mm. The power output remained at 23PS, but the torque was increased to 43Nm from 39 Nm.
When the Fiat 126 Bis was launched in 1987, the engine size was increased to 704 cc. The car also had 26 bhp of power.
An old ad of the Fiat 126, "E' la tua amica della città", it's your city friend.
History of the Fiat 126
The 126 was produced until the 1980s in the Termini Imerese and Cassino plants in Italy. In addition to also being manufactured in Poland the 126 was also produced in Yugoslavia and Zastava.
In 1984 the 126 received a facelift; its dashboard and plastic bumpers were changed. The new model was called Fiat 126p FL.
A new version of the 126, called the 126EL, was later introduced. In the 126 ELX, a catalytic converter was introduced. Though the Fiat 126 was quite cleverly marketed, it never managed to reach the popularity of the Fiat 500. In Italy a total of 1,352,912 of the 126s were manufactured. In Poland around 3,318,674 of these cars have been produced.
The famous Fiat Polski 126p was produced in Poland from 1973 until 2000. The car was identical to the original version when was first launched except for a higher chassis, a modified grille on the rear and front blinkers. The car was produced by FSM in Tychy and Bielsko Biala.
Since the car had a low price it was the most popular car in Poland during the 1980s. The 126p was nicknamed "Maluch" or "small one." In 1997 the name of the car was actually changed to Maluch. The 126p was exported to several other countries and was also quite popular in places like Hungary and Australia, where it was called the FSM Niki 650.
126p was quite important in Poland since it had quite a lot of connection to the politics of the country during the communist period. During that time a private car was considered to be a luxury since salaries were quite low and not many cars were available.
Whether a state owned car factory could produce a car on not was decided on political grounds then and not just economical. The authorities of the country did not really like the idea of people having private cars. The very first car that was really popular in Poland, and which allowed ordinary families to purchase a car, was the PF 126p. The license for manufacturing the model was purchased after Edward Gierek came to power and he wanted to gain the favor of the people. Though the car was quite small it was the only option that people had and it was often used as a family car. There were usually years-long waiting list to get the car, which although cheap, was also thought to be unreliable.