Summer 1958 saw the introduction of the exclusive Fiat 500 Jolly, better known as the ‘Spiaggina’, which became the embodiment of ‘La Dolce Vita’.
Sixty years later the iconic ‘Spiaggina’ makes an elegant return to Europe’s most famous resorts in the form of the new ‘Spiaggina ‘58’ special series. Produced as a limited edition of 1,958 cars, it’s a tribute to the year of the birth of the original and marks the 60th anniversary of the first special series of the 500.
To mark the anniversary Fiat has produced a video to the tune ‘Volare’ – the Italian classic which also appeared for the first time in 1958.
Luca Napolitano, Head of EMEA Fiat & Abarth brand, explains: “The new ‘Spiaggina ’58’ is our gift to 500 for its birthday and the 60th anniversary of the ‘Spiaggina’, a real ‘time machine’ incorporating many reminders of the Dolce Vita era, such as the vintage Fiat logos and wheels, the white belt liner, the choice of convertible format only and the two-tone interior. Not to mention a special colour just for this series: Volare Blue.
“A name and a colour that take us straight back to 1958, to the Sanremo Festival of that year, when a young Domenico Modugno teamed up with Johnny Dorelli to give the first public performance of ‘Nel blu dipinto di blu’, the famous song also known as ‘Volare’, the soundtrack for the Dolce Vita years.”
Two other Italian firms – creative hub Garage Italia and design company Pininfarina – have marked the anniversary by producing the ‘Spiaggina by Garage Italia’ show car. Based on a Fiat 500C, it features “unique, sophisticated solutions that reinterpret those unforgettable years for today’s world”.
Lapo Elkann, Chairman and Creative Director of Garage Italia, commented: “I fell in love with the car when I was a boy, and as I grew up I was determined to bring it back to life. I am so happy about the model’s relaunch and hope it will convey the dreams and the magical years of the post-war economic boom and the Italian way of enjoying life”.
Pininfarina CEO Silvio Pietro Angori says “the Spiaggina project has enabled Pininfarina to once again display its design capabilities and its natural vocation for the creation of unique, exclusive models. It was passion and attention to detail which enabled the firm’s Founder Pinin Farina to build the Eden Roc for Giovanni Agnelli in the ’50s. Today, these same qualities have guided Pininfarina in the development and building of the Spiaggina, starting from the configuration created by Garage Italia on the basis of the Fiat 500C.”
The interior has original and authentic design touches including the dashboard in the same Volare Blue colour as the exterior and a refined two-tone design for the seats, with grey striped base and ivory upper section. The cabin is completed by special floor mats and a steering wheel with a vintage Fiat logo. Standard equipment includes a Uconnect 7-inch HD LIVE touchscreen radio, so it’s Apple CarPlay ready and compatible with Android AutoTM, as well as featuring navigation with Tom Tom maps and DAB digital radio.
Also standard are the largest-in-class 7-inch TFT instrument cluster, rain and dusk sensors, automatic air-conditioning and rear parking sensors. The car is powered by a 1.2-litre 69hp petrol engine, compliant with the latest Euro6D regulations.
Back in the ‘50s, just a year after its launch on 4 July 1957, the Fiat 500 became a cult object with the debut of its first special series: the 500 Jolly, better known as ‘Spiaggina’, or ‘beach buggy’.
Built by Carrozzeria Ghia on the basis of the Fiat 500, this exclusive car was produced from 1958 to 1965 and sold in Europe, the United States and South Africa. Costing twice the price of the normal version, the special seaside version found favour with influential personalities of the age, including shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and actor Yul Brynner.
One of its distinctive features was the absence of doors – guard ropes were not introduced until around 1965 – although the most innovative aspect of its design was the inclusion of chromed rails on the sides and along the top of the bodywork, supporting the sunshade-canopy. It was equipped with a 22hp air-cooled two-cylinder engine, which gave the 500 Jolly a top speed of 65mph.
The latest creation has a lowered nautical windscreen and the load platform is covered with slatted cork in a pattern reminiscent of the design of teak floorboards on luxury yachts.
The two front seats have been replaced by a tailor-made bench which brings to mind the typical design of 1960s cars, embellished with blue and white Foglizzo Leather upholstery. There’s chrome trim on the door handles, door mirrors and hubcaps on the vintage-look alloy wheels.
From showcar to production, there won’t be long to wait. The car can be ordered and customised with all the features seen on this one-off by Garage Italia. This includes the possibility of replacing the front windscreen with a low nautical-style deflector. The production car can be equipped with any of the engine versions currently available on the Fiat 500 range.
The 500 ‘Spiaggina ‘58’ special series is the latest addition to the Fiat 500 collection, which comprises an impressive number of special editions over the last 11 years.
Since the Fiat 500 was ‘reborn’ in 2007 with the debut of a new model over 2 million cars have been sold in more than 100 countries, with over 80% of sales outside Italy.
This success has made the 500 number one in Europe in its segment since 2013 and during the first five months of 2018, it boasts leadership in 10 markets and a top-3 placing in 6 other countries.
In the first five months of 2018 the 500 again broke its own records, with more than 93,000 cars sold in Europe, making these its best five months ever.