8 Curious Car Prototypes of Communist Poland
small, 8 Curious Car Prototypes of Communist Poland, Pictured: aWołga, an Osa scooter and a Fafik, photo: Mirosław Stankiewicz/Forum , full_samchody_forum__770.jpg
Delving into the history of communist Poland doesn’t have to be a sad experience. Under the terrible communist regime Poles managed to create great works of culture, achieve sports successes and make wonderful material objects. Among the laudable things created in communist Poland are well-designed domestic car prototypes, eight of which are described below.
Poland under communism
The construction of this prototype was completed in 1957. The most intriguing feature of this car was…the door. Smyk only had one door and it was placed in the front of the vehicle. When one opened this door, the whole front of the vehicle shifted position providing access to the interior. The unusual body of this car, which never went into production, was designed by Janusz Zygadlewicz. Interestingly, Smyk had four forward gears and equally as many reverse ones.
This original-looking car was designed in 1958 by workers of the Warsaw Motorcycle Factory. At that time this factory was preparing for the production of a motor scooter named Osa. Many parts of this scooter, which eventually became a classic Polish design, were used to create the Fafik prototype. The car in question had enough room for three people, weighed 270 kilograms and had a top speed of 70 km/h. This vehicle was never mass-produced.
The first car named Warszawa was produced in 1951. Ten years later the engineers from FSO, the vehicle’s manufacturer, decided it was time to give the Warszawa a facelift and started to work on the Warszawa 210 prototype. The newer vehicle was presented in 1964. The Warszawa 210 was far more technologically advanced than its predecessor and was also well in tune with the design trends of the 60s. Unfortunately this prototype didn’t enter serial production.
Another Polish car that was supposed to undergo modernization was the Syrena, which was a 50s design. In the beginnings of the 60s work commenced on a newer version of this vehicle, the Syrena 110. The Syrena 110 prototype was ready by 1964 and at that time this car, one of the first hatchbacks ever made, was an ultra-modern design. The body of this vehicle was designed by Andrzej Zgliczyński. Only about 20 units of the Syrena 110 were ever made.
This car, which was co-designed by workers of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, was created chiefly as a means of transport for those with disabilities. The Gacek prototype was ready in 1969 and had special features (such as a rotating driver’s seat) that made driving possible, or at least easier, for people with leg impairments or with one operational hand. Even though the vehicle was favourably reviewed by disabled people it didn’t go into production.
Polski Fiat 1100 Coupé
The stylish body of this 1975 car was designed by Zbigniew Wattson. Don’t be mistaken; even though this vehicle was a Fiat it was Polish, not Italian. In the 70s the Polish car manufacturer FSO, which made this prototype, had a licence agreement with Fiat to use, under certain conditions, the Italian company’s name and know-how. The Polski Fiat 1100 Coupé used parts developed by Fiat but the car’s body was a Polish design which predated the similar shape of the 1976 Lotus Esprit.
Cezary Nawrot was the man who designed the look of this 1977 prototype. The communist regime didn’t appreciate fancy vehicles, which is why the semi-sports car Ogar shared the Polski Fiat Coupé 1100’s fate of never being mass-manufactured. Fortunately, the only Ogar ever made wasn’t destroyed like the only specimen of the breath-taking, 1960 Polish car prototype Syrena Sport, which was also designed by Nawrot. The 1977 prototype is on display in Warsaw.
Some claim this 1983 car could have been Poland’s export hit had it been put into mass production. This belief is unverifiable as only seven units were made. When the Beskid was shown publicly for the first time this vehicle had a shape that anticipated the car design trends that were to come. This prototype also had low fuel consumption and a great drag coefficient of 0,29. The one-box body of the Beskid was designed by Krzysztof Meissner.
Written by Marek Kępa