Small-Engine Car Factory (Fabryka Samochodów Małolitrażowych)
It is no coincidence that the Polish people’s car was manufactured in Upper Silesia, as the patron of the whole project, Edward Gierek, who was First Secretary of the Voivodeship Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party in Katowice from 1956 to 1970, came from this region.
The Small-Engine Car Factory in Bielsko-Biała was established on 1 January 1972 as a result of the merger of the local Wytwórnia Sprzętu Mechanicznego (Mechanical Equipment Manufactory) (which produced, among other things, engines for the Syrena cars) and several smaller plants. An important role in convincing Edward Gierek of the idea of establishing the factory, and then in its successful implementation, was played by the long-time director of Wytwórnia Sprzętu Mechanicznego (Mechanical Equipment Manufactory) (and between 1972 and 1981, of FSM) – Ryszard Dziopak. The picture shows Ryszard Dziopak handing over a bundle of keys for the first batch of Polish Fiat 126p cars to a representative of Przedsiębiorstwo Techniczno-Handlowe Polmo-Behamot (Polmo-Behamot Technical and Trading Company), Katowice, 31 July 1973.
Photo by Kazimierz Seko (collection of the Polish Press Agency)
In August 1972, production of the Syrena was transferred from the Warsaw FSO to Bielsko-Biała – the last of the then archaic vehicle left the factory on 30 June 1983. The first Fiat 126 cars were assembled from Italian parts in Bielsko-Biała on 6 June 1973.
‘Zielony Sztandar. Dodatek Ilustrowany’ of 8 June 1973 (collections of the Ossolineum Library / Periodicals Department)
The first small Fiats were delivered to customers in August 1973.
‘Trybuna Robotnicza’ of 2 August 1973, No. 181, p. 1 (collections of the Ossolineum Library / Periodicals Department)
In September 1975, production of the Polish Fiat 126p began at Plant No. 2 in Tychy – a modern factory built from scratch on the model of Fiat’s Cassino plants in Italy, where the Fiat 126 cars were built between 1972 and 1980.
‘Młody Technik’ 1977, No. 1 (collections of the Ossolineum Library / Periodicals Department)
Until 1991, when Plant 2 was converted for the production of the Fiat Cinquecento, Maluch cars were produced in parallel at the Bielsko-Biała and Tychy plants. Pictured is Plant No. 2 in Tychy, 1977.
Photo by Lech Zielaskowski (collections of the Polish Press Agency)
Photo 6, 7.
Some subassemblies for the Polish Fiat 126p were also manufactured in Lower Silesia: brake system components at Wytwórnia Hydrauliki Motoryzacyjnej (Automotive Hydraulics Manufactory) in Twardogóra, generators and starters at Zakłady Elektrotechniki Motoryzacyjnej ‘Elmot’ (‘Elmot’ Automotive Electrotechnical Plant) in Świdnica, windscreen wiper mechanisms and windscreen washers at Zakłady Elektrotechniki Motoryzacyjnej (Automotive Electrotechnical Plant) in Duszniki-Zdrój, and upholstery elements at Zakłady Tworzyw Sztucznych ‘Erg’ (‘Erg’ Plastic Plants) in Oława.
‘Słowo Polskie’ of 16 May 1975, No. 111, p. 1,2 (collections of the Ossolineum Library / Periodicals Department)