What if you’ve got the need, the need for speed, but you drive a Fiat 126? Italy’s Polini Motorsport found the answer to this problem: dump the janky stock engine, and install one from a Honda CBR100RR.
The Fiat 126 was one of those budget cars that are ubiquitous in Europe. It had a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout and a compact build to fit down narrow European streets. Power came from a tiny, 600cc straight-two engine (later versions were just over 700cc). Early versions made 23 hp, and later versions made 26 hp. No matter what year your 126 was produced, you were never going to be the Terror Of The Autobahn.
During its production run (1972-2000), the 126 proved relatively popular in western Europe and even more successful in Eastern Bloc countries. Although it started as a made-in-Italy rig, it was also assembled in Poland, Yugoslavia, and Austria.
When you think of popular COMBLOC cars, you don’t typically think of speed (or quality, or comfort, or amenities...). If you’re into homebrewed fun, however, a rear-wheel-drive, rear-engine car can be a good place to start. Polini Motorsport, based in Alzano Lombardo, built this 126 into a Proto P2 car, with a little help from a Honda literbike
If you look at a photo of a stock Fiat 126, you can see the car above is highly modified, even without the engine swap. Proto P2 cars are more akin to go-karts than proper racecars, and this one has obviously had some chassis mods. Although the video was only posted recently, the race is the Challenge del Lupo from 2018, ripping through Castelletto di Branduzzo. This racing series sees average speeds restricted to 50 mph (80 km/h), which probably suits a mini-car with a motorcycle engine just fine.
This motorcycle-engine-in-a-car idea isn’t as unusual as some readers might think. Europeans have been cramming motorcycle engines into cars for a long time now, to get more power into a tiny engine bay. Enjoy this little bit of Italian madness, and if you have a favorite car/bike mashup let us know in the comments.