The license agreement was signed in October 1971. Early, because its protagonist, the Fiat 126, would not be presented to the public for the first time until a year later, at the Turin motor show. In 1972, it will start production in the Italian city of Cassino, located 140 kilometers south-east of Rome. Licensed production of the Polish Fiat 126p will begin in Bielsko-Biała in June 1973, and in 1975 also in Tychy.
Polish Fiat 126p
Initially, the car will cost 69,000 in Poland. PLN, that is, equal to about 25 average salaries at that time. How much would that be today? If you consider the average salary announced by the Central Bureau of Statistics in the second quarter of 2022 (PLN 6 thousand 156 and PLN 0.25), this is a small 2-door car with a 23 horse engine and a cubic capacity of 594 cm. it would cost today a minimum of … 154,000. zloty!
The production of babies in Italy will end in 1980, and in Silesia – 20 years later. Is Polish 126 different from Italian at first glance?
Polish Fiat 126p and Italian Fiat 126: differences
The main difference was the color of the front indicators. The Silesian Fiat had orange lights, the Italian – white, because, unlike the Polish Fiat 126p, there were also position lights behind them, which in “our” Toddler were moved to the main lighting unit.
The Fiat 126 from Italy had, for example, white front turn signal covers and a circular logo with four diamonds.
The Polish Fiat 126p from the Silesian factories had orange front indicators and a white and red vertical logo.
It is also worth looking among the headlines. If there is a white and red Fiat Polish vertical sign, the point is clear. In addition, in the first Polish Fiat 126p, behind the right-hand door in Bielsko-Biała, the “Fiat License” sign, already known from the Polish Fiat 125p, was affixed.
Polish Fiat 126p: early 126p from Poland had a “Fiat License” plate.
Another change revealed the sad truth about the situation on the oil market in Poland at that time. In the Polish Fiat 126p the fuel cap (first metal, then plastic) was closed with a key. In Cassino, the lock was not installed at all.
What else? “Our” little Fiat also had so-called mud flaps behind the rear wheels. And if you don’t see any openings above the rear fenders, this is a very rare example of an Italian Fiat 126.
Polski Fiat 126p: chrome bumpers
Technically, the Polish child was also slightly different from the Italian one. For example, the suspension was changed on the car, because our surfaces were more challenging than the Italian ones. So the front wishbone was strengthened and a longer leaf spring was modernized. There was also the issue of P-4, that is, bumpers.
Polish Fiat 126p: until 1977 cars from Silesia had a similar logo on the front.
Previously, Maluchy had steel bumpers finished in chrome. In 1978, production of the Fiat 126 with larger and more stylish black plastic P-4 bumpers was started in Silesia. The problem is that such cars were sent for export and only went to the Polish market, if the car built with a foreign customer in mind did not meet the quality standards. The Fiat 126p available in Poland would not get black bumpers until around 1985.
There were also special editions, produced only in Italy, which have never appeared on the Polish market. Among them were Silver and Black variants (1979-1980). You may know them, among others by:
large taillights and taillights below the standard headlight;
rear side windows;
slightly colored glass: green (Silver) or turquoise (Black);
a yellow band along the length of the bodywork against a Silver or Black colored base;
“Silver” or “Black” text on the side edge of the front cover;
Gray bumpers and side moldings (Black version; in Silver they were black).
The Polish Fiat 126p becomes the Fiat 126p
In 1980, Fiat stopped production of the 126 in Italy. Since then, Poland has been the only place of production of this car, which brought the proud sign “126 Made by FSM” on the engine hatch. In 1992, Fabryka Samochodow Małolitrażowych changed its name to Fiat Auto Poland, and a year later Polski Fiat 126p became Fiat 126p. The next improvement brought the metamorphoses of the new name: Fiat 126 elx (1994) and Fiat 126 elx Maluch (1997).
In 1997 the car received a new name: Fiat 126 elx Maluch, changing the nickname to the official name.
In total, 1 million 325 thousand were issued in Italy. 912 Fiat 126 units, in Bielsko-Biała 1 million 152 thousand. 325 of these cars, and in Tychy – 2 million 166 thousand. 349 small Fiat.