Apparently, some people in Poland love Tom Hanks very much. Maybe not as much as Germany loves David Hasselhoff, but then again, did anyone from Hamburg ever gift the Baywatch star a handsomely restored Fiat? The answer is no, because that's what the Polish town of Bielsko-Biala did for Hanks in 2017. It was his birthday, after all.
It was a 1974 Fiat 126p, to be precise. That exact same car is now up for auction on Bring a Trailer to raise money for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and its Hidden Heroes Campaign. The latter is chaired by Hanks and takes “a comprehensive approach in its advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being.”
The two-time Oscar winner was overjoyed when he received the car after a small group of Polish people collectively purchased it for him five years back. It was all part of a running joke, which was neatly described by our editor-in-chief Kyle Cheromcha at the time:
"...for two weeks in 2016, for no apparent reason other than his joy at seeing such a small vehicle, Hanks documented a trip to Budapest, Hungary by posting multiple photos of himself posing next to random street-parked Fiat 126s with variations on the caption: 'I'm so excited about my new car!'"
That was enough to catch the attention of Bielsko-Biala resident and Hanks fan Monika Jaskolska. See, Poland was under communist rule when the 126 was built, and a version called the Polski Fiat 126p was manufactured under license from Fiat in Bielsko-Biala. The car became a massive point of pride for the community and when Jaskolska saw Hanks posing with so many of them in Europe, she rounded up a crew to fund the project.
Hanks was overjoyed and even donated money to the hospital where Jaskolska worked. "It's a beautiful car," Hanks explained, according to Dziennik Zachodni. "I do not know how many miles it will take on the California roads, but I'm comforted to be able to fix it with a screwdriver and a ladies' trouser belt."
Now he's donating it to fund the Hidden Heroes Campaign. The current bid is at $55,555, which is probably more than anyone's ever paid for a Fiat 126p. With just 23 horsepower and 29 pound-feet of torque, it's no speed machine, but that was never the point.
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