History of Syrena

In 1953 the Polish government requested FSO to design a new automobile, one that would be inexpensive and suitable for the general public, a sort of people's car. Work stared soon after with the idea of using as many components from the Warszawa as possible, to minimize costs. The engine chosen was a 744cc 2-stroke 2-cylinder unit driving the front wheels, modernized and adapted from an industrial motor (used for powering fire-engine water pumps!) by engineer Ferdynand Blumke. The chief engineer, Karol Pionnier, was responsible for chassis design.

Two pre-prototypes were originally constructed, each with a completely different body design. The first one was a well-executed mostly-steel (though not especially aesthetic) construction by Stanislaw Lukaszewicz, utilizing many pieces from the Warszawa (including parts of the front doors and the roof and the front and rear fenders). The other and much prettier body design by Stanislaw Panczakiewicz (who had worked for CWS and designed the body of the PZInz Lux-Sport) did not borrow from the Warszawa and was constructed of wood with a dermatoid (a leather-like material) covering (due to FSO's lack of proper steel forming machines at the time). The pre-prototype with this body design was ultimately chosen for further development leading to the Syrena (Polish for mermaid) 100, which, with a hand-beaten metal body, was put into a trial production in 1957. Before this, however, the Syrena 100 went through some testing, which included participation in a special rally across a distance of 3600 km.

In 1958 the first true production Syrena, the 101, began rolling off the assembly line. Two years later the Syrena Sport prototype, with a sporty fibre-glass body designed by Cezary Nawrot and a 4-cycle 4-cylinder "boxer" power unit designed by Wladyslaw Skoczynski, appeared but never entered production.

The Syrena 102 and 102S replaced the 101 in 1961, these were then followed by the 103 and 103S the year after. Both the 102S and 103S variants utilized a more powerful East German 3-cylinder Wartburg engine. Most of the changes that came with the 102 and 103 were minor styling modifications.

In 1964 another Syrena prototype was presented. Designed by Andrzej Zgliczynski, the 110 featured one of the first hatchback bodies and a unibody (monocoque) construction (with a separate frame for the powertrain, allowing easy engine replacement). Twenty of these so-called "Polish Renault 5s" were constructed that year and the next, but production never came.

Around 1965/66 appeared the next Syrena model, the 104. The biggest change was the introduction of a new 3-cylinder 2-stroke motor, developed in-house.

The last Syrena re-design came in 1972 in the form of the 105, which would not be produced by FSO but rather at the small car factory FSM (see Beskid), until 1983, and badged as such. Production of the FSO Syrenas (101 to 104) totaled 117,234, including the R20 pick-up and Bosto covered pick-up variations.

Throughout its existence the Syrena also experienced some sporting events, including finishes in the Monte Carlo rally in the early sixties


Type 101, 102 103 102S, 103S


steel, 2 doors

Engine Type

2-stroke, in-line Fuel:Oil mixture ratio 25:1 n/a 30:1 Number of cylinders 2 3 Cylinder bore (mm) 76 70 Cylinder stroke (mm) 82 78 73 Displacement (cc) 744 900 842 Power (bhp) 27 @ 3800rpm 37 @ 4000rpm 40 @ 4300rpm Torque (Nm) 61 @ 2000rpm 82 @ 2200rpm 78 @ 2750rpm Fuel delivery gravity pump Fuel capacity (l) 35 Fuel grade 78 octane Transmission 4 speeds + reverse, unsychronized


Drive front Frame box-section Suspension, front independent, swing arms, shock absorbers Suspension, rear floating axle, shock absorber, strut Brakes hydraulic, 4-wheel, 1-circuit, drums Parking brake mechanical, acting on rear wheels Tires (in.) 5.25, 15/16


Length (mm) 4085 4040 Wheelbase (mm) 2300 Height (mm) 1530 1515 Ground clearance (mm) 205 Width (mm) 1560 Track, front (mm) 1200 Track, rear (mm) 1240 Mass (kg) 910 930 Max. load (kg) 350 n/a 375


Top speed (km/h) 105 n/a 120 Fuel consumption about 8 litres / 100 km Turning circle (m) 5.4.

Contributed by Jędrzej Lubicz