Fiat 'beach cars'

Written by Super User | Wednesday, 21 March 2012 21:49

Realising that it is already a year ago that the Libyan uprising began it reminded me of their former leader's car collection (as you do if you're a car nut), it especially reminded me of Gaddafi's special (modern) Fiat 500 which was all over the paper's the day his compound was captured by the rebels. Anyhow, it's an odd little thing, being a convertible with no doors, but digging deeper into history you'll notice it's not the first time a Fiat like this was commissioned, nor is it the last. Here a quick overview of the Fiat 'beach cars'.

Essentially, the whole idea was dreamt up about 50 years ago by Carrozzeria Ghia for the Fiat 600, initially being aimed at those rich enough to languish about in beachfront towns, on golf courses and yachts. Which is what they were used for, a quick run-about for (very) short trips between the fortunate's favourite elevated spots. Well, style is not the word really, because, as you can see, you might look a bit of an oaf driving around in a chopped Fiat with a ruched table cloth draped over the top. This is very much reflected in the name as it was christened 'jolly' which is italian for 'joker'. On the home market though, they went for a prettier name 'La Spiaggina' which means as much as 'beachette'. No matter the name, the rich and famous liked it with people like merchant shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis buying one. You had to have some cash to spare as this little thing was twice the price of the base Fiat model. One other interesting aspect of these little machines are the wicker seats which look totally in place, but are most certainly not very pleasant to sit on.

by flickr user Removarkevisser

The whole glamorous image associated with these Jollys soon trickled over to the general public, demand was such that Fiat decided in 1960 to commission a version for their smaller Fiat 500. In the end most of the product range had their own 'Jolly' version, even an unlikely candidate as the Fiat Multipla got the 'Jolly' treatment. Over the years Fiat produced 'Jolly' versions for successors as well, for example this Panda concept, never taken in production but the charisma of the old 'Jolly' concept is certainly there.

Milanese coachbuilder Castagna recently revived the concept with a study of Fiat 500 powered by electric motors in 2008, it certainly sparked interest, as mentioned before the great dictator himself, Gaddafi, had the one in the first image commissioned.

The cloth on top looks suspiciusly like one of Gaddafi's hats..

photo by flickr user njw28

Tina got herself a slice of jolly excitement to.