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1962 Fiat 500 Jolly

Italy's location on the Mediterranean Sea meant innumerable beachfront cities and resorts. There was a brisk trade in beach buggy conversions of regular cars by the many specialist coachbuilders throughout Italy at the time. One such specialist was Ghia (now owned by Ford), who created the Jolly conversions on Fiat's 500, 600, Multipla and Giardiniera platforms.

Known at home a La Spiaggina, a word difficult to translate but something like "beach-ette", the Fiat beach-buggy was marketed worldwide as the Jolly, meaning "joker" in Italian, but also meaning something light, fun, funny and pretty in several languages.

The car was quite expensive ($1760.00 compared to $998.00 for a standard 500) and was bought by the rich and famous (Aristotle Onassis, Yul Brynner) as yacht tenders, golf carts and estate runabouts. As a result, most surviving examples have covered low mileages only.

They were sold in the USA between 1958 and 1961. Considered a success, the model had a healthy run from 1958 to 1966.

The cars' specification included cut-down sides and windshield, a striped and fringed surrey top, and chromed body-pipework. They were available in pink, coral, white, pale yellow and sky blue. Mechanicals were standard Fiat. An "economical" version was available from 1964 to 1966 featuring normal bumpers with no pipework and solid plastic seats embossed with a fake wicker pattern.

This particular car was bought by a wealthy Italian artist/painter in Alassio, near Liguria, a world famous beach resort. It was personalized by him with extra wicker, a chrome rail and a custom storage compartment. A well-known Canadian Fiat enthusiast owned it for many years. Its original "Jolly" badge is the only one known to exist among the forty-odd survivors.

Manufacturer: Fiat SpA, Torino Italy
Model: 500D Jolly Motor: Fiat 4 stroke Body : Monocoque
Years Built: 1960 – 1965 No. Cylinders: 2 Chassis: None
No. Produced: 600-700 (all types) Displacement: 499.5 cc Suspension Front: Transverse Leaf
No. Surviving: 100 Horsepower: 22 Suspension Rear: Coil
Length: 2969 mm Gearbox: 4 + rev Steering: Worm
Width: 1323 mm Starter: Electric Brakes: Hydraulic
Weight: 485 kg Electrics: 12 v 4 Wheels: 3 _ x 12
Interior: 4 seats(wicker) Ignition: Coil Top Speed: 105 kph

© 2002