The Fiat 126 is a city car introduced in October 1972 at the Turin Auto Show as a replacement for the Fiat 500. Most were produced in Bielsko-Biala, Poland as the Polski Fiat 126p until 2000. It was replaced by the front-engined Fiat Cinquecento in 1993.
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 a higher chassis, a 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-Biala and Tychy under Italian Fiat licence. Due to a relatively low price it was very popular in Poland and was arguably the most popular car there in the 1980s. Its very small size gave it the nickname Maluch ("the small one","small child", pronounced malux). The nickname became so popular that in 1997 it was accepted by the producer as the official name of the car.
History of Fiat 126p
- 1972 – the FSM car factory was built in Bielsko-Biala.
- 6 June 1973 – the first Polski Fiat 126p constructed from Italian parts. It cost about 69,000 Polish zlotys (an average monthly salary in that time was about 3,500 zlotys while low income was 800 zloty)
- 22 July 1973 – the official opening of the factory's production line (by the end of that year over 1500 Fiats were manufactured).
- September 1975 – production started in a factory in Tychy.
- 1977 – engine capacity increased from 594 cc to 652 cc. Engine power increased to about 24 horsepower (18 kW)
- 1978 – production of types with engine capacity 594 cc stopped.
- 1979 – production of Polski Fiat 126p continued only in Bielsko-Biała.
- 1981 – 1,000,000th Polski Fiat 126p produced.
- December 1984 – technical changes in the construction and body. Type FL introduced.
- 1987 – beginning of the production of the water-cooled Polski Fiat 126p Bis version (704 cc capacity).
- May 1993 – 3,000,000th Polish Fiat 126p produced.
- September 1994 – body improvement, creating type "el" with parts similar to those used in Fiat Cinquecento.
- January 1997 – introduction of a catalityc converter.
- 22 September 2000 – production ended after a production run of 3,318,674 units. All Fiats of the last limited Happy End series were yellow or red (500 cars in red and 500 cars in yellow).
The global production of this amiable car was 4,673,655 units: 1,352,912 in Italy, 2,069 in Austria by Fiat-Steyr and 3,318,674 in Poland.