FSM Fiat 126p Bis

Thursday 01 April 2010
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 Małolitrażowych (FSM) in Bielsko-Biała 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 "Mah-looh", IPA: [ˈmalux]). 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 brand name FSM - Niki 650. 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. It should be noted that 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 złoty, 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 Władysław Gomułka. 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-type caravan were also occasionally reported). Its 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.
The Bis version is an upgraded late 126p with rear mounted flat engine alowing to facilitate tiny space for luggage, apart from front boot common for all 126p's.

Technical data:
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 703 cc
- horsepower: 25 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 110 km/h

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