SOLD

1959 Fiat 500 Jolly

Following the beloved Topolino “Little Mouse” and first-generation 500, Fiat took the small, economical People’s Car market by storm with the 600 in 1955 and the smaller 500 by 1957. Offering stellar fuel economy with two- and four-cylinder powerplants, these ‘baby’ Fiats were deceptively sophisticated with fully-independent suspension systems and efficient, highly tunable engines. Produced in massive numbers, these Fiat models ranged from fun and cheeky conveyances to hot Abarth-tuned racing cars and stylish coachbuilt creations that continue to fascinate classic- and European-car fanatics everywhere today.

Both the 600 and 500 received the deft touch of Turin’s Carrozzeria Ghia, which created the festive Jolly beach car. Derived in essence from Ghia’s circa-1954 Renault 4CV beach car, the Fiat-based Jolly’s moniker is loosely translated as “Joker,” and the vehicles were sometimes affectionately known as La Spiaggina, Italian for “beachette.” Retaining the basic frontal styling from its Fiat donors, the Jolly’s was defined by its drastically cut-down sides, chromed pipework, wicker seats resembling beach chairs, and a festive striped canvas surrey top. A palette of tropical- and nautical-inspired color choices enhanced the beachside experience. The Jolly continues to represent pure fun on four wheels.

Powering the Jolly was the 500’s standard air-cooled, rear-mounted 479cc two-cylinder engine with overhead valves. According to several sources, the 1,050-pound 500 Jolly could theoretically approach 60mph while achieving a fuel economy of 52 MPG. Priced at nearly twice as much as a standard Fiat 500 sedan, the Jolly was quite a costly fashion accessory, helping explain the remarkably low mileage exhibited by the majority of survivors. The Jolly was made famous for its appearances in TV’s “Fantasy Island” and “The Prisoner.” Celebrity owners included shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, famed actor Yul Brynner, and, of course, Fiat’s dynamic boss Gianni Agnelli, who used a Jolly as a tender for his luxurious yacht, Agneta. Between 1958 and 1961, the Jolly was briefly imported to the United States. Never a high-volume product, debate continues on the precise number built, with a high estimate of 650 of the unforgettable Jolly produced between 1958 and 1966. Far fewer remain intact today, with marque enthusiasts estimating about 100 surviving examples.

We are delighted to offer this 1959 Fiat 500 Jolly, which benefits handsomely from single-owner care in a private automobile collection since 2014. The product of a beautifully executed older restoration, this high-quality 500 Jolly remains authentic and well detailed throughout. A rare and desirable early 500 Jolly with distinctive “Bug Eye” headlamps, it was built in the spring of 1959 and is believed to have spent much of its life in sunny California, where it undoubtedly lived a charmed existence. More recently, it was restored to a very high-quality standard, refinished in a lovely shade of Royal Blue over expertly refurbished wicker seats. Beautifully finished and detailed, this 500 Jolly will undoubtedly be a superb companion vehicle, whether you are at the marina, boathouse, or as a concours-field or track-day tender. A truly outstanding example of a captivating coachbuilt Italian motorcar, this 1959 Fiat 500 Jolly is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and draw admirers everywhere.

 

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