Fiat 126 History

Fiat 126  Models

Fiat 126 (Early U.K Model)

Fiat 126 DeVille

Fiat 126 (Early U.K Model)

Fiat 126 DeVille


Fiat 126 ELX

Fiat 126 Bis (Watercooled)

Fiat 126  ELX


The 126 used much of the same mechanical underpinnings and layout as its Fiat  500 rear-engined predecessor with which it shared its wheelbase, but featured an all new bodyshell closely  resembling a scaled-down Fiat  127.

Engine capacity was increased from 594 cc to 652 cc at the end of 1977 when  the cylinder bore was increased from 73.5 to 77 mm.  Claimed power output was unchanged at 23 PS (17 kW; 23 hp), but torque was  increased from 39 N·m (29 lb·ft) to 43 newton metres (32 lb·ft).

A subsequent increase took the engine size to 704 cc in new "restyling" model  Fiat 126 Bis (1987–1991), with 26 hp (19 kW) of motive power.

In Italy, the car was produced in the plants of Cassino and Termini Imerese until the 1980s.

The car continued however to be manufactured by FSM in Poland, where the 126 was produced from 1973 to 2000 as  the Polski Fiat 126p. After the introduction of the 126 Bis (126p with  water-cooled engine - Polish own construction), the original model continued to  be produced for the Polish market. The car was also produced on license by Zastava in Yugoslavia. In 1984, the 126 received a facelift,  giving it plastic bumpers (for all versions) and a new dashboard. This model  named Fiat 126p FL. In 1994, the 126p received its next facelift, and some parts  from Fiat  Cinquecento, this version named 126 EL. The 126 ELX introduced a catalytic  converter.

Despite clever marketing, the 126 never achieved the frenzied popularity of  the 500. The total number of 126 produced is : 1,352,912 in Italy, 3,318,674 in  Poland, 2,069 in Austria, and an unknown number in Yugoslavia.

Polski Fiat 126p

The car was produced in Poland under  the brand Polski Fiat 126p  (literally in English: Polish Fiat 126p) between 1973 and 2000. At first  it was almost identical with the basic model: differences included the higher  chassis, the modified grille on the back, and the front blinkers that were white  in Italy but orange for other markets. To distinguish it from the original  Italian car, the letter "p" was added to its name. It was produced by Fabryka  Samochodów Malolitrazowych (FSM) in Bielsko-Biala and Tychy under Italian Fiat license. Due to a relatively low price it used to be  very popular in Poland and was arguably the most popular car in Poland in 1980s.  Its very small size gave it the nickname Maluch ("the small one",  pronounced ['malux]). The nickname became  so popular that in 1997 it was accepted by the producer as the official name of  the car.

It was exported to many Eastern Bloc countries and for several years it  was one of the most popular cars in Poland and in Hungary, too. It also found market success in Australia  for several years from the late 1980s to the early 1990s under the name FSM  Niki.

History of PF 126p

  • 1972 – the FSM car factory was built in Bielsko-Biala.
  • 6 June 1973 – the first Polski Fiat 126p constructed from Italian parts. It  cost about 69,000 Polish  zlotys (an average monthly salary in that time was about 3,500 zlotys while  low income was 800 zloty)
  • 22 July 1973 – the official opening of the factory's production line (by the  end of that year over 1500 Fiats were manufactured).
  • September 1975 – production started in a factory in Tychy.
  • 1977 – engine capacity increased from 594 cc (36,26") to 652 cc (39,80").  Engine power increased to about 24 horsepower (18 kW)
  • 1978 – production of types with engine capacity 594 cc stopped.
  • 1979 – production of Polski Fiat 126p continued only in Bielsko-Biala.
  • 1981 – 1,000,000th Polski Fiat 126p produced.
  • December 1984 – technical changes in the construction and body. Type FL  created.
  • 1987 – beginning of the production of Polski Fiat 126p Bis version  (capacity 700 cc - 42,73").
  • May 1993 – 3,000,000th Polish Fiat 126p produced.
  • September 1994 – body improvement, creating type "el" with parts similar to  those used in Fiat  Cinquecento.
  • January 1997 – introduction of a catalytic converter.
  • 22 September 2000 – production was stopped after a production of 3,318,674  units. All Fiats of the last limited Happy End series were yellow or red  (500 cars in red and 500 cars in yellow).

The global production of this amiable car was 4,673,655 units: 1,352,912 in  Italy, 2,069 in Austria by Fiat-Steyr and 3,318,674 in Poland.

Political  connotations

The PF 126p has a very special meaning for the Poles and its story had a  connection with Polish politics during the communist period (Polish People's Republic, up to  1989). In a communist system, a private car was considered a luxury good, due to  limited availability and low salaries. In 1971 there were only 556,000 passenger  cars in Poland. In a socialist  planned economy, decisions on whether a state-owned factory could produce a car  were taken on political and not just economic grounds. The authorities  themselves initially did not find the idea of private cars attractive. The first  relatively cheap Polish car was the Syrena, but its production was limited. Limited  numbers of cars were also imported from other Eastern Bloc countries. It was  difficult to buy a foreign car because the Polish zloty, like currencies in  other communist states, was not convertible, and there was no free market. The  PF 126p was supposed to be the first real popular car, to motorize ordinary  families. The licence was bought after the rise to power of a new communist  party leader, Edward  Gierek, who wanted to gain popular favour by increasing consumption after  the Spartan period under Wladyslaw Gomulka. Despite the  fact that it was a very small city  car, it was the only choice for most families, playing a role of a family car. During holidays it  was common to see four-person families driving PF-126s abroad with huge  suitcases on a roof rack;  sightings of PF-126s towing a small Niewiadów N126 caravan specially designed  for the PF 126 were also occasionally reported. PF 126p production, however, was  not sufficient and the PF 126p was distributed through a waiting list. Often  families had to wait a couple of years to buy a car. A coupon for a car could  also be given by the authorities based on merit.


In Poland it is called Maluch, which literally means "small one" or  toddler, as well as maly  Fiat ("small Fiat"), in contrast to Fiat 125p, called duzy Fiat ("big Fiat"). In some regions, it  is also called Kaszlak litteraly "cougher"  (derived from kaszel meaning "cough", as its engine's sound resembles a cough when it  is started).

In Albania it is known as Kikirez.

In Serbo-Croatian it  is known as Peglica (meaning "little iron").

In Slovene the 126 is also called Bolha ("flea"), Pici-poki (loosely  translated as "fast-and-loud") or Kalimero on Slovenian coast  after a cartoon character Calimero. it was  also called Pejek

In Hungarian, it is known as kispolszki ("little Polish", while the 125p is the nagypolszki, meaning "big  Polish"), kispolák ("little Pole")  or törpe-polyák ("dwarf Pole"); also, the car was nicknamed egérkamion, meaning "a mouse's truck", or libakergeto, meaning  "goose cheaser", bádogbugyi "tin pant" and even Gomulka bosszúja "revenge of Gomulka", referring to the Polish politician.

In Germany the Fiat 126 was known  as the Bambino, the Italian word for child.

In Cuba it is known as "Polaquito" and in  Chile as "Bototo".


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