If you'd like to cruise around a seaside community in a car with a surrey top, be prepared to spend at least $15,000, according to the CPI Value Guide. But the most desirable beach cars can cost $80,000 or more.
Here are models to consider with their estimated prices:
1958-66 FIAT JOLLY ($45,000 to $80,000) At an RM Auctions sale in March at Amelia Island, Fla., a 1958 Fiat 600 Jolly sold for a record $110,000, well above the range where Jollys had been trading previously.
In a telephone interview, Donnie Gould, an RM partner and car specialist, described the six-figure, 4-cylinder Jolly as exceptional. "It had just the right combination of restoration quality and desirable color," Mr. Gould said.
Wayne Carini, host of "Chasing Classic Cars" on the Velocity channel, is a Jolly owner. He says the car is sometimes an impulse purchase at auctions. "If it's under $100,000, it's an easy buy for some people," he said. "If they don't get the $5 million car they wanted, they might buy a Jolly to go home with something cute."
Mr. Carini, who also runs a Connecticut restoration shop, cautioned buyers to beware of counterfeits. "Somebody is making copies in South America, using later Fiat 500s and 600s," he said. "I saw one sell at an auction in the high 30s. It wasn't disclosed as a replica, but you could see the poor workmanship if you looked closely."
A would-be Jolly successor introduced in the late 1960s, the Fiat Michelotti Shellette, is rare -- just 10 are estimated to remain of the 80 built -- but does not command the attention or prices of the earlier cars. A 1969 Shellette driven 10,000 miles and described as "highly original" sold at a Bonhams auction in Connecticut last month for $39,600. "It's a Jolly wannabe," Mr. Gould said. "It's not nearly as cute."
1959-64 JEEP GALA AND SURREY ($15,000 to $25,000) Developed as a resort rental vehicle called the Gala, this brightly painted Jeep became the Surrey for retail sales in the United States.
1964-67 MINI MOKE ($15,000 to $25,000) Rejected by the British military as a utility vehicle, the Moke went into production in England for civilian use. It was later built in Australia and Portugal. Most had an 850 cc 4-cylinder engine. British and Australian versions were sold in the United States, some with a more powerful 1.3-liter engine.
1973-74 VW THING ($10,000 to $20,000) Although Volkswagen Things are not hard to come by -- many of them are now rust buckets -- the Acapulco version is a rare sight, commanding "the upper end" of the price scale, according to Eric Lawrence, the editor of CPI Value Guide. "It was just that blue and white paint job and the surrey top."
A Thing Acapulco sold in March at an Auctions America event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for $15,950. At the same auction, a 1960 Jolly 600 brought $77,000.
As for two other vehicles in the genre, the Austin Mini Moke and Citroën Mehari, "we almost never see them," Mr. Lawrence said. "But they generally fall into the same range as Things."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.