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FSO Cars Reviews

FSO, or Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych, was set-up in 1951 by the Polish government to build cars in Warsaw. The first FSO off the line was the Warszawa (which remained in production until 1973), and that was joined by the two-stroke Syrena, in 1957. In 1965, the Polish government signed a deal with Fiat to licence-build the 125 under the banner Polski Fiat. The 125P was made suitable for local conditions by using simpler Fiat 1300/1500 running gear. It became Poland's national car, and almost 1.5 million examples were built before it went out of production in 1991.

The 125P was joined by the five-door Polonez in 1978, which featured a Fiat ESV-inspired body mounted on 125P running gear. The Polonez lasted far longer than anyone might have reasonably expected, surviving until 2002 after being joined by a number of models from Joint Venture partner, Daewoo. That business went bankrupt at the same time, and it ended up being rescued by AvtoVaz from Ukraine - the end result was Polish production of a number of Chevrolets until 2011, when the factory was wound down for good.

Good: Roomy and cheap, estate version really useful
Bad: Shoddy build, dangerous to work on, ponderous handling and steering, unrefined, ugly, prone to corrosion, slow and noisy
Good: Cheap, roomy, and a tailgate, PSA diesel option in later cars
Bad: Unrefined, noisy, heavy to drive, uneconomical in petrol form