During the communist era, Poland faced a shortage of many resources, though one thing that was produced in abundance was cars. The isolated market meant that any cars that were developed were almost exclusively Polish. If you wanted to drive in communist Poland then you’d have to drive a domestic one. This resulted in an array of intriguing classic vehicles that were unique to Poland. Here are five of the most interesting.
Named after the city of Warsaw, this motor was the first mass-produced car after WW2. Manufactured by FSO, the Warszawa had an identical design to the Soviet Pobeda. This changed in 1957 when the new model received a restyled front end. The ruggedness and sturdiness of the Warszawa made it popular with taxi drivers.
It was designed to meet the demands of the nation, taking the form of station wagons, ambulances and other service based vehicles.
Produced in 1957, the Syrena was a small two-door sedan named after the mythical Siren. According to legend, a siren lives in the river Wisla in Warsaw, tying into local folklore. The car shared many of its parts with the Warszawa, making it relatively heavy. Over the course of its lifetime, the Syrena received only a few modifications, with production lasting until 1983.
Polski Fiat 125p
During the 1960s, it was decided that a partnership between FSO and Fiat should take place, as the Warszawa was considered outdated. The result was a car that combined the body and braking system of the Fiat 125 with the chassis of the Fiat 1300. Two models were created and to distinguish between them Fiat and FSO revived the Polski Fiat marque. The licensing agreement was eventually terminated, leading to the car being called different names like FSO 125p.
Produced in 1978, the Polonez was based on the Polski Fiat 125p. It borrowed several parts, though the body was a new hatchback design created by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The car was named after the Polish dance, polonaise, which was voted for by readers of the newspaper Zycie Warszawy. The Polonez had a safety based design, making it the only East European car built to pass US crash tests.
Due to its sleek, fibreglass body and curves, some people consider the Syrena Sport to be the most beautiful Polish car ever made. It came with a 4-stroke 2-cylinder air-cooled boxer engine and independent rear suspension. Unfortunately, the Syrena Sport never went into production because it didn’t correspond with communist ideologies.
By Lukasz19930915 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons