Riviera Flare: Meet The Fiat 500 Spiaggina, A Tribute To The Original Jolly
60 years ago and a day ago, on July 4th, 1958, the first Fiat Jolly—the wicker-seated “Spiaggina” beach cruiser—became a bonafide street car. The company took the already irresistibly charming 500 and made it even more so by getting rid of its roof and turning the city car into a drivable riviera cabana. That was the first special edition of the 500 that would go on to see many modifications in its time, and now six decades later Fiat has partnered with Garage Italia and Pininfarina to produce this stunning little show car: the 500 Spiaggina.
Though the originals will always be the really precious ones—especially those bespoke creations once belonging to Fiat’s own Gianni Agnelli like the one we uncovered a few months ago—we have to say that this new vision does justice to the carefree attitude of the cars it pays tribute to. The windscreen has been severely shortened and resembles a svelte powerboat’s more than a car’s; the chassis strengthening carried out by Pininfarina lets the car go fully topless save for a single roll hoop; the rear seats have been ditched and replaced by a yacht-like storage area fitted with slatted cork floors and a working beach shower; the front seats have been married into a classic bench layout covered in waterproofed two-tone leather; there are hooks built into the car to make loading and unloading from your seafaring vessel of choice that much easier; and though its Pirelli tires benefit from contemporary technology and years of development, the white wall design anchors the styling in the late-’50s aesthetic that helped to define what it meant to be living la dolce vita.
The car marks an important milestone in the history of the Italian marque, and it does so with a model that’s bound to create a whole now round of swooning. Fiat has never been the kind of Italian company that one associates with the supercars of Lamborghini or Ferrari (though the latter connection might say otherwise), and to celebrate their history with anything other than a car like this would feel like missing the point. After all, when we think back that far into history, into the late-’50s, we see a country experiencing its post-war rebound with a verve and an eye for style that could only point to Italy. And this car is pure Italy. Garage Italia, the company behind the styling of the Spiaginna show car, is chaired and directed by the Lapo Elkann, the grandson of Agnelli, and Pininfarina has long been assisting the design work for the legendary automaker. The roofless runabout embodies the taste of the Tricolore, and is proof that you don’t need hundreds of horsepower and aggressive downforce to make a statement in the modern age of the automobile.
And if you’re thinking “Well it’s just another concept that I won’t get to drive let alone see,” know that Fiat is planning a production series of the car as well, for those of us without the desire or means to commission one of the special Garage Italia editions. The tamer, more production-like special edition from Fiat will be called the “Spiaggina ’58” and while it’s not nearly as extreme as the version pictured above, it’s still a nice nod to the original idea.