Found myself a bit bored here last evening after finishing Gemini Man on Google Movies (not amazing, but not bad!), as I imagine oft happens to us in this time of lockdown...
I decided to write this post about some random facts of my favorite cars, in no particular order!
Fact #1 - Aside from the first-generation FIAT 126p (ST) and the later, water-cooled 126p BIS, the second (FL) and third (EL/ELX) generation air-cooled 126s all listed their tire pressures in a more unique place on the car. Nowadays, it’s common on most vehicles for them to be on a small placard in the door jamb or engine bay, but things were different in the 126. The 126p had a minimal gauge cluster - all cars had a speedo, fuel gauge and odometer. Tripmeters were an option and the water-cooled FIAT 126p BIS had a water temperature gauge. What, then did the 126p engineers decide to do with the extra space in the gauge cluster? Why not put the tire pressures front and center RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE!
Fact #2 - A variety of rear engine lid vent covers were available for the 126 in the Eastern Bloc and Italy. Styles and designs varied and the jury is out on whether they really did anything. Some people argue they helped by keeping the weather out of the engine bay. Others argue that they messed up the airflow in the engine bay that the little air-cooled 2-pot used to keep itself chilly by altering the air pressure somehow that was entering/exiting the engine bay...I’ve never read anything conclusively on whether they did any harm or good, but they added some interesting flair to the back of the car, at any rate...
My favorite option for vent covers though, by far, is this AMAZING vent cover/REAR WING! :D
Fact #3 - Even the budget-strapped, technology-deprived Trabant engineers were joining the ‘80s trend of using those fancy newfangled LEDs in their gauge clusters! Two-stroke ‘2nd-gen’ (I use quotes because they BARELY changed throughout most of their entire 30+ year production run...) Trabant P601 cars used them in a before-it-was-cool, optional economy gauge located to the right of the speedometer. VEB Sachsenring proudly called it an ‘Instantaneous Fuel Consumption Meter’ in the Owner’s manual:
You can watch it in action a bit in this video: https://youtu.be/kZSKXbN6hdQ?t=148
Later Trabant 1.1 models...the ones that were updated with a more modern dash and the VW Polo 1.1L 4-cylinder engine...used the same style of LED gauge for their fuel and water temperature gauges:
Fact #4 - The FSO Polonez Caro had an interesting option that could be added to the car: a gear lock. Not the kind you might be thinking of such as a ‘gear’ lock in the sense of a diff locker, or a limited-slip diff, or some sort of lock on an automatic transmission (they never came with one!) to prevent it from shifting into a higher gear...no, this was literally a lock for the gearshift!
Think ‘steering wheel club’, but for the gear lever. This option added a sturdy metal hoop with plastic trim behind and slightly to the right of the dash-mounted shifter. When the car was to be parked the driver would put the car into reverse and this locking collar would mount over the shifter, locking it in place so a would-be thief couldn’t get the car out of gear! Kindof clever, actually, and a neat option!