FSO Syrena Sport – the most beautiful Polish car was denied and then mindlessly destroyed (Video)

FSO Syrena Sport – the most beautiful Polish car was denied and then mindlessly destroyed (Video)

Poland is not famous for its automotive industry, which is why many people are surprised to learn about all interesting cars made in this country. A lot of them were created by FSO (Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych), which worked in Warsaw from 1948 till 2011. By far, the most Polish car ever also came from the works of FSO – just look at the shapes of FSO Syrena Sport! Too bad it was mindlessly destroyed.

Syrena sedan was actually the second car ever created by FSO. First prototype were presented in 1953, but production started only in 1957. It was a simple and reliable car, which made it very popular in Poland. It also opened up the arms of FSO engineers to have some fun.

FSO engineers back in 1957-1960 were getting busy with their special project, designed by Cezary Nawrot. It was a sports car prototype, meant to test a number of solutions and production technologies that could be incorporated in Syrena sedan. Of course, this testbed didn’t have to be a beautiful sports car, but why not? Nawrot decided to have some fun with its design, especially knowing that it will never be manufactured on a bigger scale.

When designing Syrena Sport, Nawrot looked for inspiration in cars from the other side of the Iron Curtain. He later admitted taking some details from several Ferrari models, Mercedes-Benz 190SL, probably Chevrolet Corvette and some other popular cars. And you can definitely see them in the design of the Syrena Sport, but it is still a uniquely beautiful little car. It’s body is made from fibreglass and the engine is tiny, which is why FSO Syrena Sport prototype weighed only 710 kilogrammes.

FSO Syrena Sport weighed only 710 kg, thanks to its figreglass body. (Jakub Hałun, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

It was Nawrot’s best design and he hated the idea that a 2-stroke 2-cylinder S-15 engine from Syrena sedan could be rattling under the bonnet of his Syrena Sport. But he found a way to avoid that – Nawrot made the bonnet of the new car so low that the old S15 simply didn’t fit.

Instead, a completely new air-cooled 0.7 liter 4-stroke flat-twin S16 engine was developed and fitted in this car. Some of the auxiliaries were taken from Panhard Dyna Z. Syrena Sport used a 4 speed manual transmission and was front-wheel-drive, which is unusual for a sports car, but the engine wasn’t that sporty either. Although it was planned that the S16 will push around 50 bhp, but the first prototype developed around 35 bhp. However, Syrena Sport was pretty good in the corners, courtesy of its new independent rear suspension.

A 0,7 l engine was powering the front wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission. (Jakub Hałun, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

FSO Syrena Sport made its public debut on on the Labour Day (May 1st) 1960 and instantly became an international sensation. An Italian newspaper “Il Giorno” called the Syrena Sport “the most beautiful car built behind the Iron Curtain”. Everyone knew that Syrena Sport is only a prototype with no ambitions for production, but people were so impressed by the design that they started demanding that the car would be produced. Everyone was pressuring FSO and Polish Government, but it was not meant to be.

Some original footage showing FSO Syrena Sport in action

Being on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, Poland was a communist country. FSO Syrena Sport was not the sort of car communists would approve. It was too bold and not compatible with a regular working man of the country. The story goes that someone from the government contacted FSO and ordered an immediate end of the program. At that time Syrena Sport had 29000 km on the clock and had to be stored away.

One of the rare historic pictures of the original FSO Syrena Sport – other images are showing replicas. (historic picture by Zbyszk Siemaszk)

This story could have had a happy ending. Communism ends in 1989 and Syrena Sport reemerges from FSO’s storage – wouldn’t that be nice? However, there was no happy ending for Syrena Sport. Some time in 1970’s the only FSO Syrena Sport was destroyed alongside some other prototypes. Motif – a lack of space in the garage. No actual plans survived either, but some replicas later were created from some black and white pictures.

Read about other fantastic cars:

Volkswagen brings old Beeltes to 21st century – meet the electric eKäfer;

JAWA 750 – did you know JAWA made cars?

Brütsch Mopetta – glorious egg-shaped microcar from 1950’s;

7 interesting facts about BMW E30;

What happened to pop-up headlights?

Adorable city car from the 1950’s – egg-shaped vehicle is turning more heads than a supercar (Video)

Adorable city car from the 1950’s – egg-shaped vehicle is turning more heads than a supercar (Video)

Egon Brütsch Fahrzeugbau, commonly known as just Brütsch, is just another historic German car manufacturer. However, it was special in its own way, because it only created designs of  fiberglass microcar roadsters, mostly to licence them to other manufacturers. In its short history Brütsch made several interesting tiny cars, but one stands out as the smallest. How does 2.5 litres of fuel for a 100 km sound for you?

Company’s first car was Brütsch 200. It was a tiny three wheeled roadster with a single cylinder 191 cc engine and could reach 90 km/h. Brütsch itself didn’t make too many of 200’s, but it was licenced to a Swiss company A. Grünhut & Co. Brütsch 200 was only manufactured in 1954-1955. After its production life was over, Brütsch introduced another 3-wheeler roadster Zwerg. It was only a two-seater and a little bit slower with a top speed of 85 km/h, but it was more popular. Brütsch made 12 Zwerg cars, several more were manufactured by  Air Tourist Sàrl in France.

In 1955 Brütsch made Zwerg – Einsitzer – a version of Zwerg with a 74 cc engine and a continuously variable transmission. It could only do 75 km/h. Production of Zwerg – Einsitzer stopped in 1956 and Brütsch stopped making Zwerg altogether in 1957. In 1956 the tiniest Brütsch came about – the Mopetta.

Brütsch Mopetta was only 1,765 mm long and 910 mm wide. (Martin V., Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

It was another three-wheel automobile, but this one had a single seat. Its egg-shaped fiberglass body was extremely aerodynamically efficient, allowing the Mopetta to very little fuel – just 2.5 litres for a 100 km. Of course, this was also courtesy of 49 cc engine. Brütsch Mopetta was created to replace a moped and thus did not have much in a way of luxury or comfort. In fact, it even had moped handle bars instead of a normal automobile steering wheel. The engine had a pull start and an integral three-speed gearbox. Despite it’s extremely light 89 kg weight, Mopetta could only reach 35-45 km/h.

Only 5 examples are known to survive. (Michael Stern, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Interestingly enough, Mopetta was not that cheap. It did cost only £200 in UK, but that is equivalent to about 2,200 Euros in today’s money. This, and, possibly, impractical design meant that Mopetta did not enjoy huge interest from buyers, although in various car shows it was always very popular. Its cute looks and character were admirable, but Mopetta was slow, difficult to get into and priced too close to a car. Brütsch made 14 Mopettas until 1958 when production was stopped.

Only a handful of Mopettas are still alive, one of them you can see in this video

Brütsch made cars alongside the Mopetta. It was another single seat 3-wheeled Rollera roadster, powered by a 98 cc, two seat 3-wheeled roadster Bussard with a 191 cc engine, 2-seater, 4-wheeled roadster Pfeil with a 386 cc and another 2-seater, 4-wheeled roadster V2, powered by either 98, 247 or a 479 cc engine. However, none of these cars were as popular as the Mopetta and Brütsch went out of production in 1958.

No gauges and handle bars for a steering wheel. (Alf van Beem, Wikimedia)

Brütsch Mopetta started gaining popularity only after its production life was over. Brütsch tried striking a deal with Opel to sell Mopettas in its dealer network, but it didn’t go anywhere. Now you can only buy replicas, which are pretty good, or some other vehicles that look a little bit like the Mopetta. For example, Randy Grubb  makes Decopods, but it is unknown if he would still make some for sale.

7 facts you might not know about BMW – 40 new models in two years? (Video)

7 facts you might not know about BMW – 40 new models in two years? (Video)

BMW is one of the biggest manufacturer of premium cars. Enthusiasts love BMW for producing sports cars, while luxury lovers prefer large limousines that are not only comfortable and swift, but also look quite impressively aggressive. BMW is one of those brands that make cars worth dreaming of, but there are many little details that you might not know about it. In this article we collected 7 interesting facts about BMW that you might not know.

This is the third article in a series about automotive brands. We invite you to also check out facts about JEEP and Peugeot. But now let’s dive into the world of BMW.

Blue and white are Bavarian colours. Dietmar Rabich, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The BMW logo does not represent a propeller. BMW’s predecessor Rapp Motorenwerke used to make airplane engines. That lead people to believe that BMW logo is a white airplane propeller in a blue sky background. However, that is simply not true – it is just a combination of the historic Rapp Motorenwerke logo and the national colours of Bavaria. In case you didn’t know, BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works.

Dixi was the first BMW car, but not really an original design – it was built using an Austin 7 platform. ( LSDSL,Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 2.0 de)

The Treaty of Versailles pushed BMW into making cars. BMW produced airplane engines during the First World War. However, after Germany lost it, the Treaty of Versailles prevented it from making war airplanes or engines. That left BMW without a job for some time, but soon it started making motorcycles and, a bit later, in 1928-29, cars as well. The first one was called Dixi and it was based on an Austin 7 platform.

The 328 Kamm Coupe was miles head of its time – it was named after the German aerodynamicist Wunibald Kamm. (Andrew Basterfield, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

BMW was big on aerodynamics. In 1937, BMW motorcycle crushed the world speed record by reaching 279,5 kph. It was basically a deathtrap on two wheels, but it worked very well because of how aerodynamic it was. In 1940, BMW produced the extremely aerodynamically efficient 328 Kamm Coupe to participate in the Mille Miglia race. It was way ahead of its time, influencing car design for decades – even Toyota Prius took some inspiration from it.

BMW Headquarters are supposed to resemble four cylinders – something crucial in BMW’s history. ( Sven Teschke, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 de)

A 20 year old four cylinder engine from a BMW street car once won a Formula 1 season. In 1962, an M10 engine with 75 hp hit the road. After 21 years, in 1983, the same basic four cylinder engine allowed Nelson Piquet to win the Formula 1 championship with a Brabham race car. Sure, it was heavily modified and had around 1400 hp, but at heart it was still the same old engine. Impressive to say the least.

The R90 motorcycle can be assembled from spare parts still manufactured by BMW. ( Bob Adams, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

BMW is still making spare parts for its retro vehicles. Owning an old car is always a challenge because of the difficulty to get spare parts for it. Not the case with old BMWs, because the company is still making spare parts for its vintage models. They are made in an old BMW motorcycle factory in Munich and are so precise that some enthusiasts managed to build an entire R90S motorcycle from them.

The BMW Z1 had the coolest doors in the business. Sure, BMW made many interesting cars throughout the years. M1, old 8 Series, Z8 – all of them were hugely impressive. However, Z1 had a unique feature – vertically sliding doors. They hid away in the door sill and you could even drive with the doors open. The car had a plastic body and was relatively small. But only around 8,000 of them were made, meaning that now they cost around 40 thousand euros.

The new BMW 8 Series is a part of the large 40 model offensive plan. (BMW)

BMW is on a huge product offensive right now. You probably already knew that BMW is not just a car manufacturer – it is a corporation. Rolls Royce and MINI also belong to it. Now BMW is on a massive product offensive, trying to increase its share of the luxury car market. This year and in 2018 it is planning to launch 40 new and renewed models. Those include the new 8 Series (including M8), Rolls Royce Cullinan, some new electric cars and much more.

These are all the facts we collected for you today. Hopefully, you learned something new, but remember that BMW’s history is long and rich so you should definitely read more about it if you like automotive history.

7 facts about JEEP cars – which other can lose its doors that easilly? (Video)

7 facts about JEEP cars – which other can lose its doors that easilly? (Video)

Jeep is probably the most famous SUV manufacturer in the world. In fact, in many places word jeep became synonymous with SUV. The original Jeep was a hero of the Second World War and gave the initial push for the brand. There are thousands of hardcore Jeep fans around the globe, but are you one of them? We collected 7 facts about Jeep cars that you probably did not know.

What does Jeep mean? No one really knows. The original Jeep, which entered military service in 1941 was officially called 1/4ton truck 4×4, while for manufacturers it was just Ford GPW and Willys MB. However, soldiers and test drivers quickly began calling this vehicle Jeep. Why? Well, there are different answers to this question. For starters, this word has been used before to describe a military SUV. However, others say that a new character in famous Popeye comics Eugene the Jeep was the actual reason. After war ended both Willys-Overland and Ford wanted the name, but Willys was the one who took it.

During WW2 name Jeep was not official. You can see that the original had 9 slots in its grille. BrokenSphere, Wikimedia

How many slots are in Jeep’s iconic grille? Seven now, but in the original wartime Jeep there were nine. The design of stamped steal grille is authored by Ford, but when the rights to Jeep were awarded to Willys-Overland grille had to be changed for two reasons. Firstly, because the manufacturer wanted to avoid the conflict with Ford. Secondly, because Civilian Jeep had to have larger headlights, which ate into the grille space.

Jeep made the first real luxury SUV. Jeep Super Wagoneer, which came out in 1966, is the original luxury SUV, although Series 1 Range Rover is more often attributed with this achievement. Not only did it debut a year later, but it also was not that luxurious. In fact, while Super Wagoneer had air conditioning, modern audio system, electric tailgate, power steering and brakes, Range Rover still had a plastic interior, which you could wash with a hose.

Toyota Land Cruiser took inspiration from the Jeep. Land Cruiser is one of the biggest competitors of the rugged  off-road Jeep. But do you know that Land Cruiser originally was called Toyota Jeep? It was during WW2 that Japanese captured one Bantam made Jeep and sent it to Toyota, which had to disassemble it and reverse-engineer a new SUV for Japanese military. However, it didn’t happen as planned – you basically can’t even find pictures of Toyota Jeep in Japanese military in WW2.

Looks familiar? It is Toyota Land Cruiser from the 1970’s. Motohide Miwa, Wikimedia

But then WW2 was over and soon Korean War started. US Army needed many SUV so ordered them from Toyota – Toyota Jeep entered production in 1951. In 1953 it was already mass produced and in 1954 name had to be changed. Land Cruiser was chosen, but it wasn’t that original either – it was basically created looking at Land Rover. Obviously, Toyota Jeep never really looked like the original Jeep so you can’t really say it was created by copying Jeep from bumper to bumper.

Jeep brand had many owners. If you follow automotive industry news, you know that brands change their owners from time to time. Usually, independent ones reach a point when they can’t sustain their operations financially and are bought out by big corporations. However, Jeep really liked changing owners throughout its lifetime. Here is the timeline:

  • 1944–1953 – Willys-Overland
  • 1953–1970 – Kaiser-Jeep
  • 1970–1987 – American Motors Company (from  1986 controlled by Renault)
  • 1987–1998 – Chrysler
  • 1998–2007 – Daimler-Chrysler
  • 2007–2009 – Chrysler LLC
  • 2009–2013 – Chrysler Group LLC (beloning to Fiat Group)
  • 2014–dabar – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles


Jeep Renegade – probably the most hated Jeep yet. Jeep owners and enthusiasts are quite a conservative bunch. When a subcompact SUV Jeep Renegade came debuted in 2014 they were furious – it was too small, not powerful enough, meant to live in a city and just too stylish. However, that was not really true. Although Renegade is built on Fiat 500X platform, it is much different from its sister car. It is rugged and tough, if you choose the right options. As for small – it is much bigger in all dimensions than the original Jeep. And engine size doesn’t really matter as long as it can provide the power necessary to cross difficult terrain. Jeep Renegade has the best off-road ability in its class.

Jeep Wrangler is still the king of off-road. Sure, Renegade is city-oriented, but Jeep is still making the Wrangler – a utilitarian SUV. It can trace its roots right to the original Jeep. After the Second World War, Willys started producing Civilian Jeeps (Jeep CJ), which was based on the military version. Later, in 1986 it was renamed to Wrangler. You can still see some features in the Wrangler, reminding of the legendary original Jeep. By the way, Wrangler is the only car currently on the market designed to be driven with doors completely off.

Jeep Wrangler is a direct descendant of the original Jeep. (JEEP pic.)

Jeep is probably the toughest name in the automotive world. Jeep’s SUV’s are still one of the most off-road capable machines and not so long ago they started moving towards luxurious vehicles too. It makes us wonder, what Jeep line-up will look like when in the next decade or so.

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