The Fiat 126 is a small, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive city car that was introduced by Italian automaker Fiat in 1972 as a replacement for the Fiat 500. Despite its small size, the Fiat 126 gained popularity for its affordability, simplicity, and fuel efficiency, particularly in Eastern Europe.
The Fiat 126 was initially fitted with a 594 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine producing 23 horsepower, similar to the one used in the Fiat 500. In 1977, the 126 received a minor upgrade in the form of a 652 cc engine producing 24 horsepower, and from 1984, a water-cooled 704 cc engine was also available for the Polish-made version, known as the 126p, which produced 26 horsepower.
The Fiat 126 is a small, two-door city car measuring just over 3 meters in length. Despite its small size, the car could accommodate four people, although the rear seats were admittedly cramped.
In terms of performance, the Fiat 126 was not designed for speed, as evidenced by its modest horsepower figures. However, it shone in the city, with its small size and light weight enabling it to navigate narrow streets and tight parking spaces with ease. Read more
The Fiat 126 was a simple car with few creature comforts, in line with its affordable positioning. Early models did not have a rear hatch, meaning luggage had to be loaded behind the front seats. However, it did have a full set of gauges, including a speedometer, fuel gauge, and temperature gauge.
From 1987 onwards, the Fiat 126 Bis, a variant produced in Poland, featured a hatchback body style, an updated interior, and a water-cooled engine for improved performance and reliability.
The Fiat 126 was a sales success, particularly in Poland where it was produced under license. Over 4.6 million units were manufactured worldwide from 1972 to 2000, with 3.3 million of those being the Polish 126p version. The Fiat 126's popularity waned in Western Europe in the 1980s with the advent of more modern competitors, but it remained in production in Poland until 2000 due to its enduring popularity in Eastern Europe.