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Fiat 126 (1972 - 1987)

Last updated 26 March 2014

Cool, economical and tiny
Painfully slow and miserable to drive
1987: 126BIS launched

Engine capacity increased once again to 704cc in the much improved 126 Bis (below) in 1987. This was a most radical upgrade, with a new horizontal water-cooled engine and hatchback rear end. This...

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The Fiat 126 had a tough gig, replacing the Nuova 500. But in reality, it did quite well considering it was almost a lone rear-engined challenger in a market sector increasingly affluent Europeans were turning their back on by the early-1970s. It continued the appealing boxy styling established by the 127 (and was also used in the SEAT 133), and looked up to the minute - even if it didn't drive that way.

The air-cooled two-cylinder engine stubbornly remained slung out to the rear, despite Fiat’s move to FWD elsewhere in the range, and performance was leisurely in the extreme. But it’s cheap as chips to run today, and thanks to a long production run in Italy and then Poland, there’s still a plentiful supply of cars and parts - especially from Eastern Europe. Replaced by the radically upgraded, hatchbacked, but similar looking 126bis

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