Fiat 126 Cavalletta

The old saying, "Well, you learn something new every day" definitely applies today, as I learned there's an Italian word for the type of open air, Fiat Jolly-type vehicles that all of you love so much. 

So the next time you see a DAF Kini by Michelotti or Daihatsu Fellow Buggy, you can use the word Spiaggina—in fact, there's an entire Italian Wikipedia page devoted to vehicles of this type that includes many of the more well-known examples, including today's #bcotd pick, the Fiat 126 Cavalletta, which was first shown at the 1976 Turin Motor Show.

Spiaggina is a far more fun way to say "beach car", and although this is the second yellow, impractical tiny car featured this weekend, the Fiat 126 Cavalletta is more of a small, go-anywhere workhorse than New Wave conveyance.

Cavalletta is the Italian word for grasshopper, and this small work/leisure concept was designed, largely, around a Fiat 126 chassis and Fiat 500 Giardiniera (wagon) mechanicals. With a tiny, rear-mounted 594-cc engine, rear drive, and top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), the Grasshopper is easily one of the smallest and most simple trucks conceived of in the '70s.

For winter weather, Fiat saw fit to design a removable hard top, which definitely makes the car a more attractive proposition for everyday use, especially if you're planning on taking your beige-draped date to the movies.

Even though similar vehicles like the Renault Rodeo and Citroën Méhari were well-known across Europe and popular vehicles for those who needed a low-cost utility vehicle, the Grasshopper never made it into production. I could write a book, however, on the other coachbuilt, Fiat-based models that were sold to customers…but none are quite as charming as this little bug-eyed concept.


* An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the car was a front engine, rear-drive layout. h/t to David W.