A jolly Fiat to take to the beach

Fiat 500 drop-top

Fiat’s new 500 drop-top has an ineffable sense of style.

Sixty years ago the Fiat 500 was the “automotive embodiment of Italy’s post-war economic miracle”, says Jason Barlow in GQ. It helped mobilise the masses – an affordable, ingeniously packaged way of liberating a nation. Despite being barely faster than a mountain goat, it did the job with that “ineffable sense of style that Italy’s best products somehow always conjure”.

Fiat 500 drop-topA spin off from the 500 – La Spiaggina, known elsewhere as the “Jolly” – took the form of a roofless, fabric-canopied beach car that became an instant hit with Europe’s emerging elite, beloved of the likes of Grace Kelly and Aristotle Onassis, says Barlow.

And now a collaboration between custom studio Garage Italia (run by the grandson of former Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli, Lapo Elkann) and design house Pininfarina has bought that 500 concept bang up to date, says Ollie Kew in Top Gear. Inside, you’ll find a deckchair-esque blue-and-white bench seat and a cabin that’s waterproofed for beach bods. There’s chrome trim everywhere, and in a nod to luxury yachts, a loading bay covered in cork panelling with space for storing beach gear and an integrated shower. You can also order the Spiaggina with a low-cut windscreen to ape the look of a speedboat. “Attention to detail is as high as the adorability factor.”

Fiat is also producing its own nod to the original Spiaggina, yet another in the endless series of special editions the company has rolled out in support of its effervescent city car since it returned in 2007, says Barlow. The changes for the Spiaggina’ 58 are less extensive, notes Alex Ingram in Auto Express. Based on the regular 500 convertible, it features a unique pale-blue paint finish and beige soft top. The car is also mechanically unchanged from the rest of the range – UK models will be offered with a 1.2-litre petrol engine that produces 69bhp.

Prices vary depending on specification, but Garage Italia’s 2018 Jolly (the version pictured here) won’t come cheap, warns Barlow. However, it could be a solid investment if you’re prepared to wait another 60 years. Otherwise, you may want to go for Fiat’s own Spiaggina, priced at €16,750. Just 1,958 will be available.

Engine: 1.2-litre petrol; Power: 69bhp; Price: €16,750 for Fiat’s own model – price varies for customised Garage Italia’s version.