This Renault 4CV 'Jolly' is the ultimate 1960s curiosity

To be sold by RM Sotheby's on December 8, this Renault 4CJ 'Jolly' is one of only 50 made. Better – and rarer – than the Fiat 500, this could just be the collector's purchase of the year

Certain cars boast an element of curiosity, but this 1961 Renault 4CV defines the meaning. Wearing abnormal ‘Jolly’ coachwork lifted straight from a drug-filled trance, the concept stems from renowned Italian coachbuilder Ghia. Rarer than an honest politician, such examples are seldom found – yet RM Sotheby’s may be able to scratch that itch for something different.

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Heading to auction on December 8, during the Petersen Automotive Museum Auction, this Renault 4CV is to be offered without reserve. Estimates value the final hammer price between $100,000 - $125,000 (£78,310 - £97,890, €88,700 - €110,880).

Originating as a stylish beach vehicle for those refusing to leave the house devoid of Gucci accessories, Ghia’s now-celebrated ‘Jolly’ design is more commonly associated with the Fiat 500 and 600. Featuring a stripped-out body with no doors, lightweight seats and a whimsical surrey top, as few as 50 Renault-derived examples are thought to have been built.

Reportedly a brainstorming exercise crafted by Ghia’s boss, Gigi Segre, upon witnessing large taxi cabs being used on small resort islands, his idea for a compact car with outrageous Italian flair has since remained a must-have for collectors. As such, values for a ‘Jolly’– Italian for Joker – have spiralled skywards.

Compared to culture’s beloved Fiat-based ‘Jolly’, the 4CV offered a superior platform due largely to size. The engine was more powerful and the Renault’s extra dimensions suited the laid-back persona Gigi Segre was going for. As an easy-going beach car, nothing came close to the ultra-chic European manta churned out by Ghia’s 4CV Jolly.

The example offered here has been painstakingly restored in shining red, with a classic striped fabric top – just the thing to keep the midday sun off your designer swimsuit.

The Jolly is complete with desirable wicker seats, and whitewall tires. Perfect for the beach, resort, or even just zipping around the neighborhoods. Any new owner will turn heads with this fantastic slice of Mediterranean panache, all with smiling faces. Get a closer look at the French oddity here.

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