If you’d told us at the beginning of 2019 that our favourite car of the summer was going to be a Fiat — and a Fiat 500, at that — we’d have raised our eyebrows higher than the tiny car stands. Maybe with the right Abarth tweaks and styling, we’d have said. Maybe then.
But no. Abarth, Fiat’s super-charged subsidiary, haven’t had their scorpion claws anywhere near the Fiat 500 Jolly ‘Spiaggina’ Icon-e, an all-electric version of the diminutive Italian icon. And it’s a good thing too — because half the charm of this runaround comes from its laid-back looks and effortless engineering.
Based on the original Fiat 500, which is even smaller and nippier than the modern model, the Jolly ‘Spiaggina’ Icon-e is an absolute joy. Car hire company Hertz commissioned the conversions of old models by coachbuilder Garage Italia, and it’s now offering holidaymakers the chance to rent their own slice of 60s Italia.
With white-wall tyres, hand-woven seats and that electrifying twist, it’s a reinvention of the original Fiat 500 Jolly — an urban runabout and rural farm-to-market hauler that put Italians back on the road after World War II.
And this is just the latest classic to get an electric upgrade. From the original Mini Cooper to Jaguar’s E-Type and even Aston Martin’s DB5, vintage wheels are having something of a renaissance — although this little driver is the funnest we’ve seen so far.
And there’s no need to worry about safety. Not only does the Jolly ‘Spiaggina’ Icon-e have a top speed lower than its range, Garage Italia also assures us that it used an innovative safety cell to strengthen the sideless chassis — without losing torsional rigidity.
Inside, they’ve done away with any screens and installed an analogue instrument panel. Your speed selector only switches between ‘tortoise’ and ‘hare’, and those white-wall tyres we mentioned were sourced from Michelin’s Vintage line. The doors have also been replaced by a rope so it feels like you’re stepping into a beach club rather than the world’s most stylish minicar.
So, if you’re looking for something undemanding to drive this summer, jet yourself off to Italy — because this small, smiley and thoroughly jolly little motor will be waiting for you when you arrive.
Looking for something with a little more ‘oomph’? The Aston Martin Valhalla will move heaven and earth…