1977 FSO Syrena 105L 2-stroke 850cc
A masterpiece of simple engineering... am I the only Irishman who drives one?
Electrics started to malfunction due to corroded connectors/loose cables/etc. These faults were fixed when I rewired most of the car (easy job).
Being a 2-stroke, it can be tricky to start in the cold - during winter I usually cover the engine with an old carpet during the night.
Otherwise this car has been totally reliable for me. It's very, very simple, so nothing much goes wrong, and it was built to last for many years in Polish weather and bad road conditions.
I first saw a Syrena in Dublin around 3 years ago. I didn't know what it was until I had a chat with the owner. He said to think of it as a "Polish Trabant".
On a trip to Gdansk (Poland) in late July 2004, I found one for sale and had to have it. I drove it back here and it never once skipped a beat. So I am told there are only 2 or 3 other examples in Ireland.
I love driving this car, though it isn't something for people who don't want to get noticed. When I race down the street people turn their heads to see what the noise is all about. I even gave a ride to two Polish girls I know!!! The Dres Boys (i.e: Polish chavs) are certainly not impressed!!!
It is surprisingly quick for what it is, and despite the vague steering and heavy brakes, it always puts a smile on my face. Nice and cosy in winter thanks to its very powerful heater.
Overall, I'll keep this car forever, for that's exactly what they were intended for. Some people like Mercedes, some like BMWs, and so on. I like my cars to be as simple as possible, and the Syrena has just about everything I need in a car... added to a lot of character.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th August, 2006
I plan on buying one too on my next trip to Poland. I wonder how much I will pay for shipping to USA. I don't know what it is, I just like how the car looks. I also like how rare these are becoming. After full restoration, my will be sunflower yellow :)
So it's a "Polish Trabant"? What a horrifying thought. FSOs are awful, Trabants are awful, combine the two, and you get a rusty cardboard bucket.
The Trabant wasn't a bad car. Basic and simple perhaps, but also pretty reliable. People who mock simplicity in machines need their heads looking at. Simple means easy to fix, often by DIY-ers.
Cars like this just get the job done efficiently. Unlike USA cars, which are pointlessly huge, have loads of extra features which aren't necessary, and don't last very long.
I can't believe someone fell in love with our old Syrena (Eng. mermaid), and even less so that drove one from Poland to Ireland. When I was a teenager, we always had a laugh when our neighbour was giving it a wash on a Saturday to drive to the church on Sunday, with blue smoke coming from the exhaust and the distinctive rattle from underneath the bonnet. Now when I look back, I wish I had bought one and preserved it, preferable the 104 one with its doors opening from front like old American gangster cars. I just love the look and sound of the Syrena, and I am really glad that somebody has brought a piece of old Polish deep communism era motoring into Ireland. Thank you for keeping it alive.