I remember getting a phone call from the shop that was putting a new engine in my recently blown 1974 Volkswagen Beetle. It wasn’t the guy I’d dealt with before; it was his boss. He couldn’t quite believe I wanted to put this much time, money, and effort into such an undesirable, common car. “I mean, if this was a ragtop, an oval-window...” he said over the phone.
I had to tell him that this car and I had a lot of history together. Even though mine wasn’t one of the “desirable” Bugs, and that mine had the ugliest styling, the most common parts, I still loved it and cherished it.
The shop went ahead with the work, and my Bug is still on the road today, running road trips over the mountains and back.
It’s that shop phone call that comes back to mind as I see this Fiat on Craigslist. It’s not a Fiat Dino, or a 124 Spider, or even a classic 500. It’s a 126p, the Polish-built version of the already-humble 126. At the rear of the car, a two-cylinder engine producing certainly several horsepower rumbles away. Ahead of it, there’s not much else to be seen. The car is a little box on wheels, almost totally devoid of styling flourishes or extraneous features at all. It is just about as plain and tiny as a family car can be.
And there is a huge amount of charm in that, completely apparent in this listing. The ad details that this humble car wasn’t just fixed up bit-by-bit. The owner stripped it down and built it back up again:
For sale completely restored 1994 Fiat 126p (polski maluch)
Simply speaking: all out, painted and all put back together. Any part which needed restoration was restored/fixed or exchanged with original fiat parts.
Body work and new paint job, sand blasted and silver pointed rims (under hubcaps) new fuel tank, rebuilt steps under doors, main floor, new breaks and break lines, new lights, painted entire undercarriage.
New Window gaskets, new Debica original tires, Original spare tire, car jack, medical kit, tool kit and much ..much more.
Car professionally tuned up by mechanic who worked on these cars for over 40 years. All working. No issues.
Perfect condition like new in 1990s.
This kind of thing doesn’t happen without love. There is dedication here. There has to be for something like it. And the car turned out great! Look at how clean this thing is. I’m not sure there’s a car in better condition with a speedo that advises you to keep it to 50 mph, please.
I, myself, am biased in the case of this car. No, I did not grow up in Poland. I do not have memories of seeing these cars chugging down narrow city streets. I have no personal nostalgia for it. I just love how these cars look, and the values they project. They have so much space for such a small footprint. They do a lot with a little. I’m happy that someone gave one the treatment it deserved, and I’m happy some new owner fill get to enjoy the fruits of that labor. Asking $12,000 for a car not much bigger or more powerful than a large scooter is a lot, but you try to do this work yourself and see how it comes out.