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Marian Kotlicki, an airplane mechanic and an aviation enthusiast who lived in Poland, owned five cars in his lifetime. He built each one himself. His creations ranged from a three-wheeler that used an airplane canopy and a single cylinder Ilo engine from a German Tempo-Wagen, to a proper four-wheeled car based on the frame of Polish-made Syrena with a fiberglass body.
This 1985 SAM is Mr. Kotlicki’s fifth and final car. The SAM reflects Marian’s continuing fascination with fiberglass materials. The ubiquitous and somewhat affordable, locally produced Fiat 126P was a natural choice for the mechanicals.
Marian started the construction of this car in 1982 and registered it for road use in 1985. In his design, he minimized the frontal area to make the best of the 23hp, 650cc engine. He planned for better weight distribution than that of the little Fiat by creating a somewhat longer front overhang. Marian also reduced the overall weight by creating a fiberglass unibody without having to use the 126p’s floor pans or subframes. The SAM’s seats came from a Polish Wilga airplane and the center console clock from some unknown Russian plane. Procuring materials to make the fiberglass shell was difficult, as there were no consumer sources of resin and woven roving cloth. In addition, the late 1970s and early 1980s saw the beginning of the collapse of the economic and political system in Poland. The dearth of consumer and industrial goods was rampant.
Marian used the car as his daily driver up until his death in 2017. He never stopped tinkering with his creation, maintaining and improving it till the end. There were plans to mass-produce SAM by BOSMAL, an R&D arm of FSM, as well as a scheme to create a one-make class of road racing cars based on the SAM. Sadly, all of these ideas failed to materialize, victims of bureaucracy and failing economy. Marian Kotlicki refused to sell his SAM or to trade it for a modern car. Only after his passing, the family agreed to let the Marian’s final creation go to a new owner.
*SAM is a generic name given to home-built cars in Poland. The name is an acronym created from words: Samochod Amatorski Motoru, which translate as “Motor’s Amateur Car.” Motor was for many decades the only automotive magazine in Poland. In the late 1950s the editors came out with an idea of popularizing home-build cars and created the acronym. The name stuck and even now such home-build cars are called SAM. The official registration uses SAM as the make of this car. “Sam” in Polish also means “alone” or “self.”
Manufacturer: Fabryka Samochodów Małolitrażowych
Country of Origin: Poland
Drivetrain Configuration: Rear-engine, rear-wheel drive (BIS models)
Engine: Water-cooled, 704cc, flat twin-cylinder, 27hp
Transmission: Four-speed manual
Top Speed: 65 mph
Years of Production: 1972-2000 (1987-1991 126p BIS models)
Number Produced: 4,600,000 (3.3 million 126p)
Original Cost: 69,000 zlotys ($926 USD in 1973)