Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Ghia
The irrepressibly congenial Jolly was born of Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli’s wish for an open motorized transport to launch from his 82-foot ketch, the Agneta, during port stops along the Mediterranean coast. Compact yet mechanically stout, the four-cylinder Fiat 600 model proved to be a perfect platform, and Agnelli soon arranged to have a car sent to Ghia for a re-body.
Agnelli’s instructions were relatively simple: Remove the doors and roof, and install wicker seats and a removable awning top. The finished car was dubbed “Jolly de Plage,” or Joker of the Beach, with the abbreviated “Jolly” having equally positive connotations in numerous languages. A small run of 600 series Jollys was ordered, possibly not exceeding 200 examples, perhaps just half of which survive today. These were soon complemented by a brief run of Jollys built on the smaller 500 model.
Popular with the jet-set crowd, including Aristotle Onassis, Yul Brynner, John Wayne, Grace Kelly, Henry Ford II, and even President Lyndon Johnson, the Jolly was also used as a recreational car at seaside resorts, with a batch of 30 examples reputedly once delivered to Southern California’s Santa Catalina Island for rental purposes.
While little is known of the early life of this impressively restored Jolly, by the late 2000s the car was in the care of a Malibu, Californiabased enthusiast. The owner commissioned a nut-and-bolt restoration by a Costa Mesa-based specialist in Italian microcars who was formerly a master-certified Ferrari technician.
Invoices reflect that $65,000 was invested in the complete refurbishment of the car, which was completed except for the top when the owner sold the Jolly to the consignor. The expertly restored Jolly was since finished with the unique awning, wonderfully complementing the authentic wicker seating and factory-correct light green paint.
This Jolly displayed just over 52 postrestoration miles at the time of cataloguing, and the consignor assures that the car “drives like a dream,” and is “mechanically all there.” With the growing popularity of microcar corrals at concours d’elegance, this charming 600 Jolly offers a unique opportunity for general collectors and microcar specialists alike, sure to bring a smile to the face of all who experience it.