Revisiting the Fiat Panda Jolly – the Vacation Car

Fiat Panda Jolly – The vacation car for VIPs on Capri island

With FCA Heritage featuring the Fiat Panda Jolly at the upcoming Paris Classic Car show, among it’s other cars, we thought it was a great excuse to revisit this small beach car…

In the 1950s, Fiat invented the “spiaggina” (beach cars), small utility cars converted into doorless cabriolet beach cars with hollowed-out seats, designed for seafront resorts and based on the Fiat 500, 600 and 600 Multipla.

Riding the wave of Italy’s economic boom, the country’s leading coachbuilders dedicated themselves to the production of these cars on a Fiat 500 or 600 base, removing the roof, doors and pillars, while reinforcing the floorpan. Unique features include the seats, which were emptied of padding and upholstered with wicker or other water-resistant textiles, and the nautical-style awnings in place of a soft top.

Ghia, Boano and even Pinin Farina were tasked with producing these cars, which soon became elite status symbols and novel taxi cabs on exclusive Mediterranean islands, particularly those frequented by VIPs of the era.

The first model was the Fiat 600 Ghia Jolly, whose name came to represent the entire category of vehicles. In the wake of the success enjoyed by the first Jolly, which was built on the 600 saloon, Turin-based coachbuilder Ghia subsequently used the more spacious 600 Multipla as a base to increase the interior space of its successor, which also featured characteristic wicker seats.

The Fiat 500 Boano Spiaggia, built by coachbuilder and designer Mario Boano in 1958 using a Nuova 500 floorpan, is among the most famous “spiaggina” beach cars: only two were made, one for Gianni Agnelli and the other for Aristotle Onassis. Two years earlier, the “Avvocato” Agnelli had commissioned Pinin Farina to develop the exclusive Fiat 600 Eden Roc, built in 1956 on a 600 Multipla base with teak interior trim inspired by Riva motorboats.

To celebrate the rich tradition of Fiat beach cars, in 2006 the Fiat Style Centre designed one based on the second-generation Panda, entrusting it to the Stola design house in Rivoli, just outside Turin.

The Fiat Panda Jolly has a fresh and light appearance: the colours and materials are inspired by sailing and motorboats, with numerous stylistic nods to the glorious 1960s. The designers drew ideas from the 600 Multipla Jolly, made by coachbuilder Ghia in 1956.

Instead of wicker woven onto the seat frame, it uses steel slats trimmed with Rope cloth, a synthetic material inspired by the rigging on sail boats. The cushions are upholstered in cotton terry cloth for added comfort. The original look was created by Paola Lenti, a leading Italian interior design company.

There is also nautical inspiration in the hand-finished ash trim, as found on the most exquisitely crafted boats. It covers the floor, floorpan, parcel rack and sills, which are visible due to the absence of doors. The steel handrail running along the rear resembles the poop deck of a luxury ship, while the round Panda Cross headlights are combined with 1960s-inspired solid body-coloured wheel rims, finished with the signature chrome hub caps.

Get up close to the Fiat Panda Jolly and other classics with FCA Heritage at Retromobile.

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