Born of FIAT boss Gianni Agnelli’s wish for open motorized transport from his massive yacht, the Agneta, during port stops along the Mediterranean coast, the finished car was dubbed ‘Jolly de Plage’, or Joker of the Beach. Based on the 500 and 600 models’ unitary construction, these agile compacts featured independent suspension, a four speed synchronized transmission, with the engine at the rear. The 479cc air-cooled twin was hardly a performer, but light construction (and mostly low-speed intended uses) made the package work well.
The Jolly found favour as courtesy transport for patrons of luxury hotels and golf courses, such as Catalina Island off the coast of California, where a fleet of 32 Jollys provided taxi service or, as initially intended, for use ashore after one had docked one’s yacht on the Italian or French Riviera. Lacking doors and equipped with waterproof wickerwork seats, the Jolly was only practical as leisure transport, thus confirming its owner’s status as someone who could afford a car ‘just for fun’ (indeed, the Jolly was roughly twice the price of the base model it was derived from). Among the list of Jolly owners in the day are jet setters such as Aristotle Onassis, Yul Brynner, John Wayne, Grace Kelly, Henry Ford II, and even President Lyndon Johnson.
The example we have on offer here left the factory in 1966 and has more recently come to the UK some 10 years ago. In the current vendors ownership, the car has resided in a storage facility with the intention of full restoration back to its former glory. Unfortunately, due to other work commitments the restoration was never carried out and the Jolly now comes to the open market with all the essential parts ready for restoration including the wicker seats and engine as well as the body and panels which both present in very good condition with little corrosion. The work done to this example has clearly been completed to a professional standard, and although there is no confirmation many features on this Jolly suggest it could have been converted by marquee specialists Ghia. Ready for restoration this simple project could be completed and ready to use in the coming summer months.