1959 Fiat 500

Jolly

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1959
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Lot number 
    165
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

To Be OFFERED AT AUCTION WITHOUT RESERVE at RM Sothebys' Amelia Island event, 22 May 2021.
Estimate:
$60,000 - $80,000 USD

  • A cherished heirloom; three generations of single-family ownership since practically new
  • An authentic and appealing US-market 500 Jolly with body by Ghia
  • Coral over a wicker interior; cream wheels with chrome hubcaps
  • 2007 restoration by Abacus Racing of Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Accompanied by vintage family photographs and restoration documentation

Introduced in 1958, the Fiat 500 Jolly retained its hard-working city-car mechanicals—a 479-cubic-centimeter two-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed manual transmission—but whimsical bodywork by Carrozzeria Ghia gave it undeniable charm. While any Jolly is irresistible, this 1959 United States-market example boasts a remarkable six-plus decades of single-family ownership, during which this special car was used, enjoyed, and restored by members of three subsequent generations.

The initial buyer of this car is said to have purchased it for use as a yacht tender (perhaps taking inspiration from Fiat head Gianni Agnelli, who employed one for that purpose). Unfortunately, following delivery, he discovered it was too large for his boat. The Jolly, practically new, was purchased from the frustrated yachtsman by the grandfather of the current consignor.

It soon found a home at the family’s cottage in Virginia Beach, Virginia, becoming an eager companion for their warm-weather activities. “We used to drive it down to the resort area,” his son recalls, “and you would always get smiles from people. They’d just light up.” He notes, however, that onlookers often asked about the car’s “missing” doors.

In March 2006, the Jolly’s third-generation owner turned to Abacus Racing of Virginia Beach to undertake a restoration of the beloved Fiat, which was completed in November 2007. Mechanical systems, including engine and transmission, were overhauled, floor pans replaced, the body repainted in its original Coral, and new seating surfaces fitted, among many other tasks. Since completion, it has been carefully stored and remains in well-maintained condition.

This car offers an opportunity to acquire a genuine Ghia-built 500 Jolly that has been lovingly cared for by a single family for over 60 years. Accompanied by endearing vintage photographs and restoration documentation, it is sure to be part of many happy memories for its new caretakers. Should you decide to press it into service as a yacht tender, however, it would be advisable to take careful measurements first!To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/am21.