IT’S OKAY TO SMILE. IT’S OKAY TO POINT. IT’S A JOLLY!
(Amelia Island, Florida) “Oh man I don’t even know what this is, I gotta have it!” explains Steven Piantieri about the first time he saw his ’58 Fiat Jolly.
Introduced in 1957 by Fiat and bodied by Italian coach builder Ghia, the Fiat Jolly was created as a small recreational vehicle most identified as a beach-buggy runabout.
Fashioned with wicker seats, no doors, and canopy top, Fiat marketed the Jolly to be used for yachting, golf, even hunting, with the slogan “The ideal little car for your amusement”.
BUT WHY THIS CAR?
“I lived and studied in Italy… so when I came back to the states [I] always wanted to buy a little Fiat or little Alfa Romeo.”
“It was in good drivable shape when I got it, I’ve done a lot of work in thirty years. I drive it and enjoy it, certainly it’s a fair weather car but it gets a good 1000 miles a year. We truly enjoy it, take it to the car shows, drive it around, go to the movies on a fair night when the weather is decent and think I can find a nice parking space.”
“It’s a cool little car; I always thought it was neat to have unique small displacement cars instead of the larger ones.”
Apart from the Jolly’s stock characteristics, some of the unique features stem from Piantieri’s ownership and distinctive sense of humor beyond the obligatory picnic basket and beach balls.
“It’s very unique … It has the original air in the tires from 1958. We had new tires put on so we transferred the original air into the new tires, you couldn’t have aftermarket air in the tires! You’ll notice it’s the first car in the world to have a factory airbag.”
When Piantieri talks about his car he has a devilish grin that only comes from a 30-year love affair.
“I like my girlfriends and my cars top down.” Piantieri jokes, knowing full well he is catching looks from unknown onlookers.
For many the casual first glance might not be enough to figure out what the Jolly is, but that is precisely what keeps a smile on Piantieri’s face.
“With the Fiat Jolly everybody is happy. Everybody is just thrilled to see it and [they] want to know more about it.”
Story and photography by Matthew Emmer & Guy Smith
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