Turin, Italy - Just a year after the launch of the ‘Nuova 500’ in July 1957, Fiat released the very first limited-edition version of this timeless classic, a topless, doorless beach buggy with a brightly striped canvas awning for a roof.
In Italy it was called ‘Spiaggina’, simply the Italian for beach buggy, but it soon became known far and wide as the Jolly. It was sold all over Europe, the United States and even South Africa and, despite its high cost - double that of the standard version - stayed in production until 1965, including as customers shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, actor Yul Brynner and at least one US president*.
And 60 years later, Fiat is commemorating the original Jolly with another limited edition, the Spiaggina '58, of which, appropriately, just 1958 examples will be produced - in convertible format only - complete with period styling cues such as vintage logos and wheels, a white waist rail, a beige fabric roof, a two-tone interior in grey and ivory and an exclusive paint colour, Volare Blue. It’ll be available with either the 51kW 1.2-litre or the 62kW 0.9 TwinAir petrol engines.
We’re waiting on a reply from Fiat Chrysler Auto SA as to whether and when the Spiaggina ‘58 will be released in South Africa - and how many we’ll be getting. As soon as we know, so will you.
Meanwhile, Lapo Elkann’s Garage Italia has teamed up with Pinifarina to build a completely topless one-off show car based on the Spiaggina ‘58 - in effect a limited edition of a limited edition! - the ‘Spiaggina by Garage Italia’.
The rear passenger space has been made into a storage compartment with a custom ‘beach shower’ roll-bar, developed by Pininfarina to restore the rigidity of the roofless body-shell, and the floor of the load box is covered with slatted cork patterned like the teak deck on a luxury yacht.
The show car has a lowered nautical windscreen, inspired by the design of the classic Riva speedboats, and the two front seats have been replaced by a custom-made bench seat - typical of 1960s cars - trimmed in specially waterproofed blue and white Foglizzo leather.
At the moment the show car you see here is the only one in existence, but Garage Italia will build you a replica to order, using any engine variant of the 500 currently available in Italy - including the special windshield if you want it. At a price, of course.
*Don’t believe us? There’s one in the personal collection of the late Lyndon B Johnson.