Gone but not forgotten: new exhibition at the former FSO plant highlights some communist-era motoring classics

Seventeen years after the last Polonez car trundled off the Żerań FSO (Passenger Automobile Factory) in Warsaw some of the factory’s motoring classics are back as part of a newly opened exhibition.

The idea to collect some of the relics of the road of communist Poland started as a joke. The "Our Track" Association of Old Transport Enthusiasts members created a Facebook fanpage called “Nation’s Treasures” (Skarb Narodów) featuring cars once sold in the Polish People’s Republic’s unique models. Robert Brykała, Czarek Nowicki, Artur Perzanowski, Piotr Adamczyk and later on Andrzej Grabczyk and Maciej Bień acquired a quirky collection of vehicles including Warszawa, Polonez, Syrena and Żuk vans and soon started looking for a way to make it available for the public.

With the cooperation of the Foundation for the Protection of Industrial Monuments and Technology over 100 cars are now displayed at the FSO factory. There was no better place for the exhibition, as the car factory, curiously, for an industrial facility, located in the middle of Warsaw, was the birthplace of many automotive legends.

As the organizers reveal: “Vehicles manufactured in neighbouring halls returned to the former paint shop - where, at the end of the 1940s, the construction of FSO was started. There are Warszawa cars, that started everything in 1951, Syrenka, which began to leave factory in Żerań six years later. There is no shortage of Polski Fiat 125p, produced here from 1968-1991, and the Polonez, which was made in FSO from 1978-2002.”