Thank you to Benoit
My very first car. Than I moved upward. Next was a Seat 133, followed by a Beetle.
Being in the U.S., I’m not familiar with that one. It looks irrepressibly cute and practical.
It looks like the photo is squished horizontally, except that the wheels are round so it actually is accurate.
If you’re 23, low on budget, and you have your girlfriend on the passenger seat, its perfect. Great roadtrip car btw.
It looks like a Mk I Golf/Rabbit that was pulled from a too-hot clothes dryer.
I never realized that Ringling Brothers made a car.
It makes my Festiva look like a full sized Mercury, “the man’s car”.
That reminds me that in today’s schools, they often have outbreaks of lice.
The car many Polish families had to squeeze into because they were in a relatively low-income country in the Eastern Bloc, which had a license to manufacture the 126.
And yet most families didn’t even have that back then.
I find it amusing that this car elicits mild derision, but if it were a Kei car, folks would fawn over it.
Having had relatives in Communist Yugoslavia (and now virtually none in the country since 1991), I used to have conflicting emotions concerning Fiat’s willingness to license their cars to commie countries. On one hand, they were fulfilling their basic capitalistic function, but on the other hand, they were helping the oppressors.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter. But I still dig these little buzz bombs. Only the oddest of oddballs would even consider driving something like these here in the States. But, I cannot ignore the purity of purpose such a vehicle represents. All that you need (not want) and nothing more. I came to appreciate my Yugos for this very characteristic.
I disagree, the oppressors already had their Mercedes 600’s, this was giving the oppressed more freedom. What could the North Koreans do if they had cars?
What freedom? They had to wait for years to get a car. There were few cars to choose from. There were strict limitations on where they could go with said car. The car could be taken back at any moment.
It was a cruel tease, mostly.
It wasn’t a tease, it was a genuine development in quality of life. Before that, cars were only something for those high up – around the 70s,they became aspirational proletraian items.
Geozinger, what are you talking about?
In ex YU it wasn’t like that at all. Vehicle expropriation was out of the question (unless you stole it), we could travel by car or any other means wherever/whenever we want, west and east Europe. USA required visa (and still does) but it is up to US government, not ours.
Considering vehicle choices, it was limited compared to western countries, but it wasn’t that bad – we had a choice of domestic cars like Zastava/Fiat 750, 850, Yugo, 128/101, 1300/1500, Renault R4, R5, R12, R16, R18, Citroen 2CV, Diane, Visa, GS/GA, NSU Prinz 1100, 1200 and later Golf II, from Poland Fiat 125 and 126 (our featured car :-), Soviet Lada, Moskvitch and Zaporozec that nobody wanted, east German Wartburg and Trabant (also not appreciated by general public), Czechoslovakian Skoda… From western market, VW beetle was popular choice (and type 3 was not a rare sight), Opel Kadett, Ford Taunus, 12M, 15M, Escort, Austin 1100/1300, Mini, Hillman IMP…
For gentleman with somewhat deeper pockets (there were other people with means, not just party officials), Audi 80/100, Peugeot 404/504, Citroen ID/DS, Opel Rekord would be the weapon of choice, and of course Mercedes, if one can afford it (and apparently quite few could, judging by street scenery from late 70’s onward.
And no, we didn’t have to wait 10 years for car delivery…
My best friend’s mom had one when I was little, sometimes she’d pick us up from school in it or we’d go shopping with her. It was a little buzzbomb with the twin-cylinder engine popping away behind us and her shifting through the gears like she was Michele Mouton. The car went around corners faster than I’d have imagined and was a hoot to be a passenger in, driving it must have been a blast as well. The styling is fairly timeless as well, certainly not looking like anything like a 47 year old design.
Almost 5 million were sold, making it a very successful line and almost outpacing the Mini. Certainly a vehicle any “car enthusiast” should know something about.
I think that in every way, this is a brilliant design. Yet if Fiat had emulated this, and not the original Cinquecento, for the revised 500, the new car would have been a flop. Such is the paradox of retro styling.
There are some great souped-up 126 videos on YouTube, they look like they’d be hellaciously fun to drive.
This one looks like some fun… https://youtu.be/56tQXxqQsac
First there was the FIAT Topolino, then there was the FIAT 500 Nuovo. This one was updated to the features FIAT 126. Take all 3 models together, add all the lisenced production and you have a car that competed with the Model T and Beetle in terms of numbers.
It still had the 2 cylinder engine in the back. I had no seat time in the 126 but in the 500 Nuovo. There is absolutely no reason to be derisive of this little car. It was actually fun to drive. It is always fun to drive a slow car fast. It was nimble, economic and could be parked in tight spots. Just the thing for Italy’s towns.
My wife had one in Poland as a first car. It had a recoil start – like a lawnmower pull cord-
in the center console. Very cheap but fit the bill for the socialist minimalism of the time.
Not really – it had (more or less) standard electric starter, except that instead of starter relay usually operated by the key switch, it had a lever and a cable with a switch attached, connecting the starter motor directly to the battery. Perfectly adequate solution for such small engine and starter.
On a recent driving trip thru Poland, I was hoping to see several 126P’s since they were made at a factory in Poland for 20+ years, but no luck.
It appeared most Pols had stepped far away from their Communist days and were hungry for Skodas and Toyotas and a few Fiat 500 Pop.
For now, I’ll stick with CSC for my feed of 126P history.
There are still a good number of these on the road in Cuba.
You can get 6 people in one of these. Well, students. Just work it so you get the front seat and hope the last one is isn’t too big or ugly.
Me next to one of these on a trip from Poland to Greece back in 1977. 2300 km one way. Yes, you could actually drive one, start-by-wire, no air con, 2 cylinders and interior space enough for a family of hamsters. If that is all you can get, make the best of it.
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