We’ve scoured the Internet in search of some of the week’s best cars available for purchase, and we’ve found some good ones. Instead of ultraexpensive auction items like last week’s Chrysler “Thomas Special” coupe, this week’s potential purchase, a 1977 Fiat 500 Giardiniera Jolly, is a Ghia special worth a look for other reasons.
What is it?
Original Fiat 500s are unique on their own, and well-kept editions catch the eye of discerning collectors — including editor-in-chief Jean Jennings. The 500 Jolly, though, takes uniqueness to a new level, in that it served no practical purpose other than enjoyment if you were wealthy enough to afford it. The 500 Jolly cost almost twice as much as a standard 500.
The 500 Jolly was a conversion by Italian coachbuilder Ghia that lopped off the car’s roof and doors to let the driver and passengers enjoy the open air. Ghia also replaced the standard seats with wicker units that completed the car nicely. The result: an open- air toy. Ghia even made a fabric Sunbrella top optional to protect occupants from the glaring (presumably Mediterranean) sun.
Based on the 500, the 500 Jolly used a 500-cubic-centimeter, two-cylinder engine that produced 13 horsepower, and was coupled to a four-speed manual transmission. At only 1050 pounds, its extremely light weight allowed the 500 Jolly to travel at speeds up to 59 mph.
To boot, the 500 Jolly shown here is actually built on the 500’s Giardienera wagon bodystyle. The 500 Giardienera featured a wheelbase 4 inches longer than the standard 500, and the Jolly version had to be custom ordered from Ghia, making it extremely rare. This Jolly is also one of the last of the 500 Giardinieras, as well as 500s produced in general.
Why would I want it?
It’s Jolly! And extremely rare. This particular car has also been fully restored and is painted a proper color for a 500 Jolly, but in pink, it’s not as attractive as some other examples we’ve seen. It has full restoration certifications from both the Carrozzeria Ghia Club Italia and the Registro Storico Fiat, and is likely in better shape than when the original owner took delivery from Ghia.
Recently, the 500 Jolly has become collectible favorite among collectors. A 1961 standard example went for $70,400 at RM Auctions’ Collector Cars of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two years ago. If for no other reason, the little Jolly Giardiniera is also sure to put a smile on your face and others’ whenever you drive it.