FSD Nysa 522

If you've ever heard of Geopolitics, you'll know that Poland sits in an area called the Heartland. If you haven't, it basically means that whoever has control of Europe and Asia has control of the world, and whoever controls the Heartland controls Europe and Asia. So the philosophy goes, anyway. The Heartland, then, is the Breadbasket; the fertile land which feeds the population. Think Nineteen-Eighty-Four. Think Eurasia. Of course, it's an outdated philosophy nowadays, but it helps explain a few things about just how big the Soviet Union considered itself, and why it felt it necessary to take over Poland. One solution for all, and all that.

So when you take a sizeable country, like Poland, and look at its needs, you can categorize them quite simply. Poland needs cars. Bam, new factory, in Warsaw, called the Car Factory (FSO,) making one car - the Warszawa. Great for ferrying people around (considering it's the size of a boat), but cumbersome if it's just you on your own so, boom, FSM, the Small Car Factory, making the Syrena. Need to shuttle a few tonnes of coal to a remote village? You'll need a Star, courtesy of FSC, the Heavy Goods Factory. And if you just need a pick-up, get a Tarpan, the bastard offspring of FSR, the Farmer's Car Factory.

It should come as no surprise, then, that once production was up and people needed to buy things in shops (yes, Communism was bad but it wasn't ALL empty shelves and martial law) you'd need a Delivery Van. And lo, in 1952 the powers-that-be created the FSD, the Delivery Car Factory, churning out the all-new Nysa N57.

Well, that's what the Communists would have you believe. In actuality, the N57 was just a Warszawa M20 chassis and engine shipped off to a mountain village to be rebodied by the Nysa Steel Body Shop. By 1968 however, the designers had advanced enough to scrap almost all the Warszawa-derived stuff in favour of heavier-duty gear (nine-spring clutches and independant front suspension with multiplesprings, amongst other things) and called the final project the N521/522.

The 521/522 were the final evolutions of the Nysa, with the only clear differences being a 10cm higher load height for the 522, plus a 4-speed gearbox instead of three, and (wait for it) a better air filter for the engine. Or at least, that's what the handbook says. In reality, the true beauty of the Nysa platform for both 521 and 522 was its versatility. Once the Warszawa chassis had been ditched so that the engine could be placed further forward, the Nysa became a van of such practicality that, despite a few cosmetic changes, it remained essentially the same over its 44-year lifespan.

This particular 522 is a T-series, meaning 8-seater minibus. There were also 2-, 4- and 10-seater versions (F, C and M series), plus ambulances, refrigerators, half-body flatbeds and boxvans. Some came with side loading doors, some had complete transparent plastic roofs for tourist buses, but they were all 16" wheeled, 51 horse-powered monsters thundered along by that Polish power-plant, the S-21 engine. Beloved by factories and militia alike, the 522 was a common sight on Polish roads along with its FSC offspring, the Zuk.

But the conversion to Capitalism was not kind to Nysa, and after a third of a million units, the FSD was absorbed into the greater FSO structure, ditching the Nysa 522 so that the factory could make the Polonez Truck whilst the part-share twin, the Zuk, took on both the van and minibus roles by becoming the FSO-Daewoo Lublin. But you still see a few of these frog-eyed boxes, standing proud on side streets just like this one. And whilst most were unloved workhorses, patched together over the years until there's more fibreglass than sheet steel and more taped-over cardboard than actual glass, you do occasionally see a gleamer like this one, with polished paintwork and at least one shiny hubcab still attatched.


Grandrzej said...

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marta said...

Nicest car ever made I say.

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