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Lot 444: Fiat 600 Jolly

Quail Lodge Sale, Bonhams (16 August 2012)

* 633cc four-cylinder engine * 4-speed gearbox

* Original Ghia Jolly * US delivered version * Correctly restored by leading Jolly expert * Proven concours winner in stunning condition

As redolent of La Dolce Vita Italy as the immortal Vespa scooter, the 'beach car' is most famously embodied by Ghia's 'Jolly', unquestionably the best known of the many alternatives to the standard Fiat 600 offered by some of Italy's finest carrozzeria. Designed by Dante Giacosa, introduced in 1955 and produced for 15 years, Fiat's 600 and 600D proved to be an outstanding success for the company, with some 2.5 million built. The compact, rear-engined saloon spawned numerous variants, from sporting and competition versions by Abarth to the ahead-of-its-time Multipla people carrier and, of course, the Jolly. A novel and quintessentially Italian concept that transformed these humble saloons from basic transport into conspicuous indicators of wealth, the Jolly was a 'beach buggy' before that genre was popularized by scores of Volkswagen-based specials. The Jolly found favour as courtesy transport for patrons of luxury hotels and golf courses or for use ashore after one had docked one's yacht on the Italian or French Riviera. Lacking doors and equipped with 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 600 it was derived from.

This charming Fiat Jolly is an original US version according to the vendor's research, part of a batch of Jollys delivered through the local Fiat importer Roosevelt Motors in 1959 with the speedometer in miles and sealed-beam headlamps. Indeed 32 saw service as taxis on Catalina Island off Los Angeles between 1958 and 1962. One of an estimated 100 surviving original Ghia-made Jollys, this example is believed to have been sold in Los Gatos or San Francisco and the current owner recalls servicing the car for its previous owner from the late 1970s until it was parked due to illness. Eventually, in 1982, the car was sold by the estate to the current owner but nothing was done until 2008, when values of the Jolly justified the cost of restoring it.

Over a two-year period the Jolly underwent a comprehensive, ground-up restoration to original specifications by the owner, one of the leading Jolly experts in America. The car was completely disassembled and repairs to the bodywork and floors carried out prior to the underbody being completely cleaned, rust proofed and sealed before undercoating. The body was then finished in period Eggshell blue using top quality DuPont base coat/clear coat CromaOne paint. The Jolly presents in outstanding cosmetic condition, having had all the brightwork re-chromed, a new roof and new signature wicker seats.

Mechanically the engine was completely rebuilt and the number on the motor matches that on the ID plate, confirming this as a matching numbers car. The transaxle was similarly rebuilt, with new bearings and the worn gears replaced. The cooling system was overhauled, with a coolant catch tank discreetly mounted in the trunk - the only deviation from the original specification. The fuel system was completely rebuilt and all new rubber fitted. While the car was apart, the suspension and steering were rebuilt, and the brake hydraulic system replaced, with new shoes (including parking brake shoes) installed. Wheel bearings were repacked. New correct size radial tires were fitted to the five restored wheels, with new hubcaps. In essence every effort has been made to return this Jolly back to as-new condition.

Following completion of the restoration the Jolly was judged at the 2010 Palo Alto Concours, winning first in class, a second at the 2010 Concorso Italiano along with several class wins and appearances at other concours events. Showing just over 300 miles on the odometer and fresh from a recent service, the Jolly remains is now ready to be enjoyed by the next owner.

Lot Details
Auction Quail Lodge Sale
Bonhams, Carmel, California, USA
Lot Number444
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$72000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$82800
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number100674748
Engine number734093
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors