|1962 Fiat Jolly
This car sold for $21,160, including buyer’s premium, at the Bonhams Quail Lodge sale held August 17, 2002.
The micro car world is somewhat removed from the mainstream of collector cars, and is often thought of as being a little weird by the rest of us. But make no mistake, the micro people are as serious and as passionate about their collecting as those who pursue Duesenberg SJs and Ferrari GTOs.
And why shouldn’t they be? Even before WWII, micro cars were produced virtually everywhere that larger automobiles were built. They were the transition from motorized bicycle (or horse-drawn conveyance) to fullsized cars, offering the twin attractions of some weather protection and a little cargo carrying capacity. True, they didn’t have much of either, but try carrying home a basket of groceries in the pouring rain on a bicycle.
For those who scoff at micro cars’ minuscule powerplants and twodigit horsepower ratings, let me remind you that the first Sebring race was won by a Crosley Hotshot, America’s own entry in the micro car field, and that Crosley engines powered the most innovative homegrown class of racing in the ’50s, H modified.
Further, if one looks at post-WWII entry lists for the Mille Miglia, more than half of the racers were either pure micro cars, or specials based on micro cars. Isettas, Renault 4CVs, and Fiat Topolinos battled each other as fiercely as did the large-displacement Maseratis and Jaguars. Let us also not forget that the ubiquitous Topolino was used as the base for most of the highly praised Etceterini marques. Siata, Giaur, Giannini, Stanguellini and Taraschi are a few of the better known, but more than 50 small racing makes were based on Fiat’s little mouse.
The car pictured here makes no such pretensions. In 1962 Italy was no longer hungry and somber-it wanted to have fun and play. Introduced in 1957 as the Nuova 500 Jolly and coachbuilt by Ghia, it was cute and impractical for anything but driving on the sunny beaches of the Mediterranean. As the years went on, the engine displacement increased. This example has a “big” 767cc unit.
Probably the main reason for the relative scarcity of Jollys was rust, a common denominator for all steel-bodied cars of the period. One would hope that the English nobleman who owned this car had a villa on the Riviera, and used it only on sunny days. The 21,000 miles indicated is a lot for a Jolly, but the car appeared to be in decent driving condition.
What about the price? As with all cars that are bought as trinkets, it’s relative. A fully restored example sold for $39,100 at Christie’s Pebble Beach auction in 1999, and that sale is the primary reason we have seen at least one at each Monterey auction since. Jollys are relatively scarce in the US; a search of eBay Motors and Traderonline showed just one for sale, described as in excellent condition and having covered just 5,672 miles, with an asking price of $26,500. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few cosmetically challenged Jollys lurking in garages that can be bought for less than half that.
In any event, given the inflationary nature of the Monterey weekend, it appears the new owner of this car paid a fair price. I wish him many happy sunny drives on the sand.-Raymond Milo