English Section

Fiat 126p: Poles mark 50 years of iconic 'Toddler'

02.06.2023 17:30
Poland is celebrating 50 years since the first Fiat 126p, an iconic car widely referred to as the "Toddler," rolled off the assembly line.
Photo:Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency via PAP/Abaca

Although the model is no longer produced and can be barely seen on Polish roads nowadays, it has special meaning for many Poles.

The Fiat 126p, known in the country as the Polish Fiat (Polski Fiat) or more affectionately the Toddler (Maluch), was produced under Italian license. It became a famous symbol of the Polish automotive industry at a time when the country was behind the Iron Curtain.

June 6, 1973 was officially when the first Polish Fiat 126p, built from Italian parts, rolled off the assembly line in the southern city of Bielsko-Biała.

Now the city is set to commemorate the anniversary with festivities this weekend.

“In a way, it was an inexpensive car affordable to the average Pole," Deputy Mayor Adam Ruśniak said.

"A family of four could squeeze in, with a heap of luggage on top, as Poles were not only keen to drive across the country but also ventured into parts of Europe,” he added.

“It was definitely the car that revolutionised Poland’s automotive industry, giving Poles an opportunity to see more of their own country and other countries in Europe,” Ruśniak also said.

The Toddler gained more international publicity a few years ago when Hollywood star Tom Hanks was gifted a Fiat 126p after Poles saw online pictures of the actor posing with the car reading "I got a new one!”


Click on the audio player above to listen to a report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek.