Fiat 126

The blog about small and funny car Fiat-126.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fiat 126 vs Porsche

I'm not sure if it's a 500bhp FIAT 126p from United Kingdom or Fiat 126p from Poland but it faster than Porsche

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why FIAT 126 is so popular

ore than 30 years have passed since the inception of the Fiat 126. How has the car stood up to the passage of time? 'Not too well' is the answer.

Modern day motorists are spoiled in comparison with drivers of 30 years ago. Increasing affluence in just about every country in the world, especially Europe, has lead drivers to expect a standard of motor car that is a world apart from that of the little 126. Even the cheapest cars now have electric windows, central locking, power steering, sumptuous interiors and a reasonable level of performance. The cost of running a car is of less significance too, people are not obsessed with low fuel consumption and cheap spares. The car has become a disposable item. Motorists who want cheap transport can buy a relatively young car for little money, run it into the ground, then scrap it and buy another.

The main defining points of driving a 126 in this day and age are the lack of performance, small size, low running costs and last, but not least, the fun.

The lack of performance is the most significant thing you notice when driving this car. Acceleration and top speed were barely acceptable back in 1972, and the gap between these cars and a modern economy hatchback are huge. So noticeable is this that many people who are only accustomed to modern cars will think that there is something wrong with the engine of the baby Fiat. 0-60 takes over 30 seconds in the fastest variant (the 126 bis) and over a minute in the earliest cars. This compares to about 15 seconds for the slowest hatchbacks in production today and closer to 12 for a typical cheap car. It is necessary to downshift to 3rd at the slightest sign of a hill and this can be especially embarrassing on the motorway when large lorries will be rushing up behind you! However, it is a sad indictment of the congested state of our roads that, motorways excepted, this lack of performance is rarely an issue. While cars behind may become frustrated on hills, and wonder why you are accelerating away from junction so slowly, progress from A to B is not really hindered at all. You will soon be back behind the car that pulled away on the last hill. The one thing that is frustrating is the almost total lack of overtaking ability. The only way to overtake in these cars is to take a big run-up at the car in front and hope that he doesn't twitch his big toe on the accelerator as you go past!

One area where lack of performance is a complete non-issue is in town driving. And here the car excels due to its tiny size. At just 4'6" wide this car is narrower than the original Mini. And with a turning circle of 28ft it can match a London black cab, famed for their ability to turn on a sixpence. Parking in the smallest of gaps is incredibly easy, and it is frequently possible to park in spaces that are not even designated parking spaces, sometimes end-on instead of parallel with the pavement. Of course, small size generally means small amounts of luggage too, at least in the air-cooled cars. The 126 bis however is a different proposition. The boot, while not very tall, at least gives some extra space. However if the rear seat is folded down and the parcel shelf removed it is amazing what can be squeezed into this tiny car. In town driving one thing which can be a little annoying is the lack of synchromesh on first gear. This means you have to wait until the car has come to a complete halt, or double de-clutch before shifting into 1st. Failure to observe these rules will mean a car with no first gear - as evidenced by the many cars being scrapped for this very reason.

Running costs are very low. Insurance is peanuts and with some specialist brokers it is possible to insure for a ludicrous sum. Fuel consumption should be around 50mpg with mixed motoring, 45mpg if the car never gets out of town, and over 60mpg on long runs. There are a variety of places selling spare parts and these are generally very cheap as well.

Of course, driving a car like this is fun. They are so different to any modern car, that it is really like stepping back in time. Other road users stop and stare, some point and laugh. Maybe they are laughing at you, but who cares, it feels as if they are laughing with you!

The FSM Story

FSM - Fabryka Samochodów Małolitrażowych

oland, the true home of the 126. At a time when affluence in Western Europe meant that cars like the Fiat 500 and 126 had a limited future, Poland was crying out for a small, basic and above all, cheap means of transport. FSM were already making the 125p under licence from Fiat, but waiting lists were long and the car was still too expensive. FSM signed an agreement with Fiat on 29th October 1971 to produce the 126p under licence the following year, at the same time that Fiat put the car into production themselves. Fiat announced the 126 at the Turin Motor Show in October 1972 and FSM unveiled the 126p just one month later in Warsaw.

A new factory was built at Bielsko-Biala, a small town in southern Poland, and production of the 126p started on 6th June 1973, initially using parts shipped in from Italy. 1500 cars were produced that year, and 10,000 units the following year. In September 1975 a second factory was opened at Tychach.

As with the Fiat branded car the first significant change to specification was in 1977 when the engine was increased in capacity to 652cc, the brakes were increased to 185mm diameter, the dynamo was replaced by an alternator and the car gained plastic bumpers. At this time 4 versions of the car were available, the 650 standard, 650 Special, 650 Lux and 650 Comfort. Differences in specification were trivial and consisted of things such as heated rear window, seat coverings and sun strip.

FSM then undertook a program aimed at improving the fuel consumption of this already frugal little car. Extensively modified prototypes were created but they proved too expensive to put into production. In November 1982 the 650E was announced and this received a new exhaust, modified combustion chambers, and revised ignition settings. This resulted in an improvement in fuel economy of 7%. Further changes were made to this model in June 1983 which included a compression ratio of 8.0:1 (up from 7.5:1) and revised valve timing. This gave another 5% improvement in fuel consumption.

In 1984 the car received a facelift and a number of changes that were required to comply with European safety legislation. This included smoother edges both inside and outside the car, more rounded bumpers, rear fog light and a host of interior trim changes.

The next big change, and the most radical in the development of this car, was the introduction of the 126 bis. This model had an entirely new engine designed by Lancia. It was a watercooled twin of 704cc and was laid on its side. The new engine had a bore of 80mm and a stroke of 77mm. Compression ratio was 8.6:1. The radiator was located alongside the engine and it relied entirely on an electric fan for airflow through this radiator. The new engine was the most powerful unit to be fitted to a Fiat 126 making 26bhp at 4500rpm and 36ftlbs of torque at 2000rpm. In order to cope with the increased power the clutch was increased in size from 155mm to 160mm. The final drive was raised from 4.875:1 to 4.333:1, the gearbox ratios being left as before. This new layout permitted a flat boot floor and a hatchback. With the rear seats folded down this little car had a prodigious load carrying capability for a vehicle so small. This car was produced at the Tychach factory until 1991 at which time the factory started to produce the new Cinqecento for Fiat and no more bis models were made.

The aircooled 126p was still in production. This received electronic ignition, improved ventilation and halogen headlamps in 1994 and was called the 126p el. In 1996 the car received its final round of revisions which included fuel cut-off on the overrun and a catalytic convertor in order to comply with tighter European regulations on emissions. This was designated the 126p elx. The 126, which had been the number one selling car in Poland for over 20 years, was now starting to wane in popularity. The final 126 rolled off the production line on 22nd September 2000. The last 100 cars were a special edition called 'Happy End'. By this time a total of 3,318,674 cars had been produced in Poland, 1,152,325 by the Bielsko-Biala factory and 2,166,349 at Tychach. Italian production of 1,352,912 contributed to a total of 4,671,586 baby Fiats.

from here

The Fiat 126 was not a direct replacement for the Nuova 500.

Despite beliefs to the contrary the 126 was actually designed to fill a gap between the Nuova 500 and the 127. The 500 was looking increasingly basic and was still only a 2 seater that could house 2 children in the back at a pinch. Performance was also starting to become unacceptable. Although the 500 was discontinued in some countries at the same time the 126 was introduced, in Italy there was an overlap of 3 years between the 2 cars.

The 126 drew heavily on the success of the 500, retaining the same drivetrain configuration, wheelbase, floorpan and most major mechanical components although these were all enhanced. The big difference was a new, more box-shaped, bodyshell. Despite retaining a similar width and only gaining a few inches in length the car had a lot more room inside. It was now capable of carrying 4 adults albeit in a cosy fashion. Instrumentation and trim was not much different to the 500 with just a speedometer and a fuel warning light. The engine was enlarged from 500cc to 594cc through enlarging the bore to 73.5mm. This raised peak power from 18bhp to 23bhp, and torque from 22ftlb to 29ftlb. The car was heavier than the 500, at 587kg compared to 515kg, but the power increase more than offset this. The gearbox acquired synchromesh on the upper 3 ratios. This was a contentious issue inside Fiat with the engineers not wanting to do so, but the marketing people insisting that 'women drivers were requesting it'. So, performance and people/luggage capacity were increased over the 500, but the other thing that was improved significantly was safety.
Fiat were regularly producing cars for the annual Experimental Safety Vehicle competition and the 126 drew heavily on this experience. It had crumple zones, side-protection in the doors, stiff central tunnel, square channel surrounds to the doors and collapsible steering column. The fuel tank had also been moved from the underbonnet location of the 500 to under the rear seat, close to the centre of the car. As mentioned above the 500 was still available for 3 years in Italy as the 500R and this car actually used all the running gear and floorpan of the new 126, but the engine was detuned to 18bhp.

The 126 was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in October 1972. A fleet of 126s was made available to motoring journalists so that they could experience the car in a bustling city, the ideal place for such a car. It was enthusiastically received apart from minor reservations on the styling. The similarity to the styling of the 127 was remarked upon by many, but it was nowhere near as cute as the Nuova 500, and this would be the cars downfall in later years when the 500 became a cult classic while 126s lay rotting in scrap yards. In Britain the car was launched in RHD form in July 1973. Brochures of the time featured the Metropolitan Police who had been given a car to drive non-stop for 7 days and nights around the Isle of Man TT Course. The car averaged 41mph and returned 51mpg, requiring only the adjustment of the points and timing on the final morning of the stunt.

For the next few years the car continued in basically the same guise, the 'L' and 'Sunroof' models merely having slightly different trim levels.

In 1976 the only major Fiat revision was introduced in the form of the 652cc car. The bore was increased from 73.5mm to 77.0mm giving 1bhp more and 2ftlbs more torque. The brakes were increased from 170mm diameter to 185mm diameter. The dynamo was replaced by an alternator. In the UK the car was badged DeVille and gained a 'luxury' interior at the same time. This included velour seats, carpeted floor, fully carpeted door trims and even carpet on the dashboard! For the launch the cars were filmed outside and inside the Hyde Park Hotel in London, this only being possible due to the diminutive size of the little car.

Fiat stopped production of the 126 in Italy in 1980. By this time Italy had produced 1,352,912 cars. All cars sold since that date were produced in Poland by FSM. During the period 1980-1992 FSM exported over 897,000 cars all around the world from Italy to Australia. In May 1985 the 652cc car received the engine from the Polish 650E version with higher compression ratio of 8.0:1 and revised ignition settings. The next evolution of the car was the 126 BIS introduced in 1987 and this replaced the air-cooled car in western Europe. Full details of this car can be found on the Polish History page, but essentially it gained a hatchback body by virtue of a horizontal 704cc water-cooled engine. In western europe this was the only model sold until its demise in 1992 when it was replaced by the Cinqecento.

Source here

The Parents of Fiat-126

In 1933 Fiat announced an internal competition, open to all their departments, to design a small car for the masses. The winning design was penned by Dante Giacosa from the aviation division. The car, officially the 500, became known as the Topolino. It had a 569cc four cylinder side-valve engine hung out ahead of the front axle. This was coupled to a 4 speed gearbox with synchromesh on 3rd and top that carried drive to the rear wheels. Front suspension was independent by transverse leaf and a live rear axle was employed. The car had 12V electrics and hydraulic brakes. For a small car this was all quite advanced. Originally it had been planned to make the car front wheel drive, but the difficulty and expense of constant velocity joints put a stop to that. The car was designed as a pure 2 seater which allowed a reasonable amount of luggage room. This really was a very small car with a wheelbase of only 6ft 6in. Weighing in at just 535kg the 13bhp engine gave sprightly performance for the time and had a top speed of 53mph. The car endured for the next 17 years. During this time it was very successful in all forms of competition including the Monte Carlo Rally and the Mille Miglia road race. In 1948 the side-valve engine was replaced by an overhead valve engine producing 16.5bhp and the car became the 500B. This raised top speed to 60mph. In 1949 the Topolino was restyled and became the 500C. Total production of the Topolino amounted to about 520,000 units.

In 1955 the Topolino was replaced by the 600. This was a larger 4 seater car with a rear mounted 633cc engine. Fiat soon decided that it was necessary to create another small car to take the true place of the Topolino. Hence the Nuova 500 was born. The Nuova 500 looked like a scaled down 600. It retained the rear engine of the 600, but instead of a water cooled four cylinder it had a vertical air-cooled twin of 479cc producing 13bhp. There was a 4-speed gearbox with dog engagement of all gears (no synchromesh).
The Nuova 500 remained in production for the next 18 years. During this time the engine grew to 499cc producing 17.5bhp, and then received another power hike to 22bhp in 1965. In 1972 the Fiat 126 was introduced. For 3 years there was a Nuova 500R made that used the floorpan and most running gear from the 126. This car ceased production in 1975. As well as the saloon car there was an estate car, the Giardiniera, which had the engine positioned horizontally so that a flat floor could be installed. Over 4 million Nuova 500s were produced during its long life. The car has become a cult classic all around the world.

source here

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Fiat 126

The Fiat 126 succeeded the popular cult classic the Fiat 500. (See review). Although many regarded the 500 like so many other cars as a poor continuation of the 500, however this was far from the truth and its long history will certainly prove any critic wrong!!

The fiat 126 started production in Italy, in the year of 72” production of the 500 continued alongside the new retro square car. The 126 or “bambino” as the Italians called them had much more to offer. It was faster, continuing with an identical air-cooled engine to the now pretty ancient 500, but the reliability remained, it maintained the cheekiness like the 500, even with the same chrome bumpers. The engine was now a 594cc. The 126 was also slightly more spacious, and fitted in with the changing shape of cars. The small Fiat was ever fuel economical, reaching MPG of up to 60!!! It was the new peoples car of Italy really, but like the 500 it hit the whole world. The engine could be tuned just like the 500’s, and nearly all parts are manufactured, i.e. sports exhaust, Abarth oil sumps, and loads of other parts.

The 126 arrived in Britain the following year (July 1973), the following year after that small revisions were made, which included the sunroof as standard. However the cute little car was still lacking something…SPEED!! In 76’ the 652cc engine was introduced and was named the de Ville, the 126 were now nearing the 70mph mark. The suspension and syncro-mesh gearbox remained throughout all the models of the 126, the gearbox being a favourite as the double de clutching was removed unlike the 500. Many people today enjoy carving up the last remaining air-cooled 126’s and lumping the better engine into there 500. Needless to say, the 126 air-cooled is becoming more of a rarity than the 500!! (Probably due to this). The prices of 126’s are becoming much greater,

A pivotal point in the history of 126 was made in 1980; production of the 126 was stopped in Italy and transferred to Poland who would manufacture the 126. The company was called FSM (abbreviated), which apparently translates to “Small Car Factory” Without doubt this was an excellent move, this ensured we still had this wonderful car while Fiat could focus on bigger projects. From here on the. Little happened to the car for a while, the compression ratio was increased that was about it. A massive development came in 87” with the launch of the “BIS”; the BIS completely rejected the simplicity and reliability of the good old reliable air-cooled engine. The engine was water-cooled, this was the main difference with an up rated engine of 704cc. Secondly the engine was laid horizontally to make the car a handy hatchback. Giving the 126 enthusiasts the well-deserved boot they had longed for! This design was plagiarised from the Fiat 500 van the Giardiniera, which had the air-cooled layed horizontally, and proved very successful. Although it all went wrong with the car major fatal flaw with this car, as I have experienced, the head gaskets go very easily, and in my view is because the thermostat is no where near the cylinder head in fact in the furthest possible place. Therefore opening too late and cooling the engine too late. The other flaw is the position of the radiator, its small, and tucked away and cooled by an inefficient electric fan!!!

Other than the engine, the car is almost identical to the old air-cooled 126’s, various differences include up rated brake drums. The cars drive the same, and feel the same except for the lovely sound of the air-cooled hum and the massive array of sports

Parts, which are readily available for the 500/and air-cooled 126. The BIS was a fraction heavier than the previous models, but Production of the BIS sadly ended in 92, and subsequently was the last year of the 126 for Britain.

Obviously the BIS is more common than the air-cooled 126’s particularly the Italian 70’s models, unfortunately not many of these are around, probably explaining the price of one which sold in ebay recently for nearly £3000. Production of the air-cooled ran along side production of the BIS,

One major part of the BIS Fiat should of incorporated was better seats, the seats were identical to those used in the Fiat 500, and didn’t come with head rests. So on long journeys your no better off than being in a 500.

Prices are rising steadily for the 126, certainly not depreciating. BIS’s go anything from £200 - £1000, relying heavily on the condition of the car. The air-cooled tend to go for a fraction more, however many people would disagree with me. The extra 50cc does make that difference when driving the car, the engine is also quieter and these minor factors made the BIS a more practical car for today’s roads. Cruising at 70 is not a problem for the BIS so ok for the motorways, in that respect, but like I have and so many others have pointed out, reliability lets the BIS down a little, the fact that sports exhaust are not available for the BIS somewhat upsets many, including myself. The heater matrix instantly warms up the car on those cold mornings much more efficiently than the air-cooled model. All in all the BIS is an excellent model of the 126.

When driving any model of the 126, you will find everybody waving at you or smiling, which is reciprocated by a dinky toot from your horn. I have read somewhere that Sterling moss said he has never been downhill and round corners so quickly than in a 126. I don’t know how true this is but another celebrity racing driver Graham Hill amazingly drove from London to Brighton, on only a single gallon of fuel.

by Christopher Lakin

Polski Fiat 126p

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Polski Fiat 126p (literally in English: Polish Fiat 126p) is a small car produced in Poland between 1973 and 2000. It was a type of Fiat 126 and to distinguish it from other types from other countries the letter "p" was added to its name. It was produced by Fabryka Samochodów Małolitrażowych (FSM) in Bielsko-Biała and Tychy with 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"). The nick-name 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 Hungary.

1972 – the FSM car factory was built in Bielsko-Biała.
6 June 1973 – the first Polski Fiat 126p constructed from Italian parts. It cost about 69 000 zlotys (an average monthly salary in that times was about 3,500 zlotys)
22 July 1973 – the official opening of the factory's production line (till 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 cm³ to 652 cm³. Engine power increased to about 24 hp equal about 17 kW.
1978 – production of types with engine capacity 594 cm³ 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 created.
1987 – beginning of the production of Polski Fiat 126p Bis version (capacity 700 cm³).
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 catalytic converter.
October 2000 – production was stopped after a production of 3.320.000 units. All Fiats of the last limited Happy End series were yellow.

The global production of this sympatic car was 4.670.000 units : 1.350.000 in Italy and 3.320.000 in Poland.

Political connotation

The PF 126p had a strong connection with Polish politics in a 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. It should be noted, that in a planned economy, a decision whether a factory can produce a car, was a political one. The authorities themselves initially did not find the idea of private cars attractive. It was very difficult to buy a foreign car, because the Polish currency złoty was not exchangeable, just like currencies in other communist states, and there was no free market. The first relatively cheap car was Syrena, but its production was limited. The PF 126p was supposed to be the first real popular car, to motorize ordinary families (from this point of view, it was the Polish Volkswagen Beetle or Citroën 2CV). The licence was bought after the rule in Poland was taken by the new communist party leader, Edward Gierek, who wanted to gain popular favour by increasing consumption after spartan times of Władysław Gomułka. Despite it was a small city car, but in a reality of a communist system, it was the only car available to most families, playing a role of a family car. Its production, however, was not sufficient and the PF 126p was distributed through a waiting list. Often the families had to wait a couple of years to buy a car. A coupon for a car could also be given by the authorities for merits.


In Serbo-Croatian it was known as 'Peglica', in Slovene as 'Bolha'.

Fiat 126 History

Fiat 126

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fiat 126
Manufacturer Fiat
Production 1972-2000
Predecessor Fiat 500
Successor Fiat Cinquecento
Class city car
Body style 2-door saloon
Engine 594 cc Flat-2
652 cc Flat-2
Length 3.11 m
Width 1.38 m
Height 1.34 m

The Fiat 126 was a city car introduced in 1972 as a replacement for the Fiat 500. It was replaced by the front-engined Fiat Cinquecento in 1993.


The 126 used much of the same mechanical underpinnings and layout as its predecessor, but with an all new bodyshell closely resembling a scaled-down Fiat 127. Engine capacity gradually increased to 700 cc in the 1980s (the maximum output at that time was 34 bhp).

In Italy, production ended in the 1980s, but was continued in Poland, where the 126 was produced from 1973 to 2000 as the Polski Fiat 126p.

In 1984, the 126 received a facelift, giving it plastic bumpers (for all versions) and a new dashboard.

Despite clever marketing, the 126 never achieved the frenzied popularity of the 500. This did not mean, of course, that it was not a commercial success; quite the contrary - it just happened that it was merely a highly successful model, not one whose sales had gone through the roof. The Soviet-reclaimed steel rust scandal of the 1970s (which also caused tremendous damage to Lancia's reputation in the UK) did nothing to help sales, although it would be fair to say that Fiats, Lancias and Alfa Romeos never rusted more than their British, French and even German competitors.

Fiat 126 Photo

Fiat 126