Journal article

Mariusz Jastrząb (2017)

Fiat’s small cars for Polish mass motorisation: The Small Engine Car Factory in Bielsko-Biała and Tychy, 1971–80

Journal The Journal of Transport History
Short title of the journal JTH
Number/Volume 38: 1(2017)
Page references 37-52

ISSN: 0022-5266 (eISSN 1759-3999)

The paper presents the 1970s licensing agreement between the communist government of Poland and the Italian company Fiat for the production of small motor vehicles, the Fiat 126 model, and the consequent building of the Small Engine Car Factory (Fabryka Samochodów Małolitrażowych) in Bielsko-Biała and Tychy. The project aimed to enhance Polish economic international competitiveness, to narrow a technological gap between the country and the West, but – most of all – to transplant to Poland an element of Western modernity: individual car ownership. In fact, with three million units produced, 126 was the car that had motorised Poland. The paper focuses on managerial problems that state bureaucracy had to tackle in the process of constructing a new car factory, showing how the political goal of mass motorisation overtook any other financial or industrial constraints, though reducing productivity and financial sustainability of the project.