1980s / Driven daily / Fiat / Italian

Driven daily: Fiat 126

The title of this article is a little misleading: this mid-1980s Fiat 126 doesn’t appear to be driven daily. However, it wears a current registration sticker, insurance sticker and parking pass so it is at least moved regularly, which by our standards is enough to earn it a spot in these pages.

We spotted this unrestored Fiat in southern Paris while riding on a tramway and walked back to photograph it after we got off. It is a true survivor, to put it mildly. The decklid is held closed by wire, all of the emblems have been pulled off, moss has started to grow in several places and just about every side of it is dented.

Like most big European cities, Paris has a decent (albeit crowded) public transportation system and a lot of people take exclusively buses and/or metros to get around. The few people that have a car use it occasionally to get places where buses don’t run and we’re willing to bet that this is the primary purpose of the 126 pictured here.

Launched in Turin in 1972 to replace the 500, the Fiat 126 has largely failed to eek out a spot on the collector car market in western Europe. Today, the 126 is typically worth very little and few people bother to keep one in running condition, let alone invest the time and money to restore one.

As we were photographing this rough 126 a well-preserved yellow 500 blasted by, providing a very telling contrast between two nameplates that were produced side-by-side for several years. It left us to wonder, will the 126 ever reach 500-like values?

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