– Our baby – the object of many bad jokes and hot desires – has been produced in Poland for more than 25 years. In Italy, its production was stopped in 1980. In Poland, the last unit left the production line at noon on September 22, 2000 – reminds the spokesman of Fiat Auto Poland, Bogusław Cieślar. More than 20 years ago, small car factories in Bielsko-Biała and Tychy were part of Fiat’s Italian concern.
The first Polish baby was collected on June 6, 1973 from the original parts of Italy. Serial production of this model at the Cassino plant in Italy was already underway for almost a year. In October 1972, the first international presentation of the car took place at the Turin Motor Show, and shortly afterwards the car was presented at Plac Defilad in Warsaw. Officially, serial production in Bielsko-Biała started on July 22, 1973; in September 1975, production began at a new factory in Tychy.
The production of the Toddler in Poland was the result of a contract “on industrial cooperation and licensing for a small engine car 126”, concluded by the Polish authorities and Fiat on October 29, 1971. According to its terms, the Fiat 126p is. rear-wheel drive, two-cylinder engine with a capacity of 594 cc, a maximum power of 23 HP and an independent, four-seater, two-door body of the Berlin type.
– The car was supposed to change many times in the following years, but its silhouette remained one of the most characteristic elements of the Polish environment until the end – said Cieślar.
The license was not bought with foreign currency – it was paid for, among other things, engines and gearboxes made in Polish plants for the 126 model made in Italy and spare parts. Along with the purchase of a car manufacturing license, the former members of Fabryka Samochodow Małolitrażowych received detailed manufacturing technologies from the equipment of the licensed car, which has not been done in Poland before. This meant technological progress for many companies from the metallurgical, chemical and electrotechnical sectors.
In the 1970s, the Baby received good reviews – according to the ranking published in 1976 by the West German magazine “Auto Motor und Sport”, the Fiat 126 was the cheapest car in Europe in the class of small cars to buy and operate.
The first improvement of the car took place in 1977. The main focus was on the technical side. The engine capacity increased to 652 cm3, the intake system had a suction silencer, and the DC generator was replaced by an alternator (no more problems with the battery). The most noticeable change was the removal of large gaps in the engine cover, thanks to which the cooling was improved and the engine was a little quieter. Modifications are allowed to increase power up to 17.7 kW.
The last series of changes took place in January 1999. The Fiat 126 elx had not only a catalytic converter, but also headrests for the rear seat passengers.
The last child, produced in the fall of 2000, went to the Fiat Museum in Turin, and the last one – to the Technology Museum in Warsaw. In total, in the years 1973-2000, more than 3.3 million of these cars were produced at the Bielsko-Biała and Tychy plants, of which about 900,000 were. was exported. In Italy, more than 1.3 million Fiats 126 were created.
– Infants traveled with the inhabitants of many countries, almost in all the continents of the world. In the years 1985-1989, for example, more than 23,000 children were transported to China, where in many cities they were driven as taxis. There were five thousand such taxis in the city of Wengzhou alone, recalled the spokesman of Fiat Auto Poland.
In 1988, puppies were exported to Australia and Cuba. Thanks to the design changes, the Fiat 126p also got a rally version. Polish rally drivers praised in the 1970s that the small car performed unexpectedly well on both domestic and foreign roads. For example, in the winter of 1975, Sobiesław Zasada and Longin Bielak tested the Infant in winter on the way to Warsaw-Monaco – it was the so-called. access point for the famous Monte Carlo Rally.
Today, babies are already objects of desire for collectors. A sensation in the media was caused by the original Fiat 126p from 1979, almost straight from the factory For 34 years, the car was parked in Piotrków Trybunalski; there was still foil on the seats, and only 10 km on the meter.
Currently, cars are no longer produced in Bielsko-Biała; however, there is an engine factory there. The cars are manufactured in Tychy, where the current models of the Fiat group are manufactured – Fiat 500, Abarth and Lancia Ypsilon, and also – on behalf of the Ford group – Ford Ka.
Since 1973, about 10 million cars have been produced at Fabryka Samochodow Małolitrażowych in Tychy and Bielsko-Biała by Fiat Auto Poland, including about 8 million in Tychy.