This is a car which carries strong significance for its native Poles, being produced during the countries communist period. With production running between 1973 and 2000 under license from Fiat in the Polish FSM factory, over 3 million cars were built, accruing a waiting list of up to 2 years due to its immense popularity. For many Poles it provided the first chance to own a car, providing affordable mobility to ordinary families and opening up a previously unattainable lifestyle. The Fiat 126 was often seen filled with four occupants, their luggage on roof racks, headed off for their family holidays – something that previously wouldn’t have been possible. The 652 cc air-cooled engine produces a modest 24 bhp, so perhaps don’t expect your next family to be covered at much pace, but as a city car, the little Polski Fiat was just what people needed.
Enthusiast owners are no rarity in the classic car world, but this one takes things to the next level… Enjoyed for 10+ years, the current owner makes the most of the cars head turning abilities, using it to advertise his minicab business. With his shared Polish origin, he is a die-hard enthusiast of the Fiat 126; so much so that he established and runs the UK’s Polish Classic Car fan club. Acting as the club’s mascot, the car’s been driven on three UK tours with the club and attends many classic car shows, using its towbar to carry a small trailer for the obligatory BBQ and other road trip necessities.
In Jun 2017, the car was treated to a refurbishment at a cost of £6k which included a full-body respray, replacing the original brown colour with the lustrous yellow you see on it today.
The extensive restoration and owner-maintenance is backed up with advisory-free MOT which the car passed in February 2021. The V5 document is also present and the owner is happy to supply all bills for the refurbishment work, parts replaced, as well as photos taken during the refurb. Fresh fluids and filters were done just before the recent MOT by the owner who has cared for this car in his ownership.
In-keeping with its no-frills concept, the simple interior is in excellent condition. Having been entirely re-trimmed in 2017, it references the yellow exterior with its cloth seats, leather gear gaiter and door cards all carrying a yellow accent. The bolsters are unworn, full rubber mats protect the carpet and the audio is taken care of with upgraded speakers in the front. Lift the front boot up and you’ll find a full-sized spare wheel, plus the original wheel jack and tool kit.
The cute, boxy shape is found in excellent condition. Its yellow paint is fresh from the 2017 re-spray with no damage, the replacement sills are clean and the black plastic bumpers show no sign of having been put to use. Glass is all free from damage with the rear windows having a tint to keep rear passengers happy. The silver alloys are in good condition with limited sign of curbing damage, whilst all four tyres have plenty of tread and mudguards on every corner finish off a great looking exterior.
Starting on the button and turning over happily every time, this is an incredibly simple car in every respect. It’s almost identical mechanically to the Fiat 500 that it replaced and is a refreshingly simple offering compared to the modern cars we’re used to.
A four-speed gearbox continues the mechanical, hands-on theme and you won’t get any fancy power assisted steering when you’re pulling off parallel parks into those tiny inner-city spaces.
So, it might not have the racing pedigree of certain other rear-wheel-driven, rear-engined, air-cooled cars, but what it does have is bucket loads of charm. This is a car that will whisk you straight back to the simple days of motoring; you’ll love it for the way it looks parked up on the driveway and the feeling it gives you as you sit behind the wheel, not to mention the simplicity of maintenance it asks for.
For those interested parties of a more business-minded nature, this Fiat not only offers a fun way to nip around the city, but a unique advertising proposition for your business. As the current owner will attest, the cars 3m length, distinctive, boxy shape and bright yellow colour have a magnet-like effect of phones being pulled from pockets and pictures being snapped by onlookers.
This is a car that we all need right now; it’s something that will put a smile on the face of not just it’s happy new owner, but anyone who’s lucky enough to see it on the road.
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