Ghia – 450 SS Convertible

By the mid-1960s, the era of the custom coachbuilder was slowly grinding to an end. Bespoke designed and hand built cars were becoming a thing of the past, yet a few key players, particularly in Italy, clung to their traditions. Firms like Pininfarina, Zagato and Ghia remained active in the arena, often building Fiat based show cars to highlight their talents and establishing partnerships with large manufacturers. Ghia had found an unlikely partner in Chrysler, who oft-conservative model line was spiced up in the 1950s thanks to the work of their chief stylist Virgil Exner who formed a strong relationship with Ghia. Ghia designed several concept cars for Chrysler, which also led to the development of the semi-factory Dual Ghia luxury cars, as well as the Ghia-built Imperial limousines.

 

For the European auto show circuit in the early 1960s, Ghia had been displaying a series of handsome sports cars based on a Fiat 2300 chassis, wearing bodies designed by the great Giorgetto Giugiaro. The Ghia 230S first appeared in 1964 wearing the distinct nose and compound curves we now see on the 450SS. Hollywood-based entrepreneur Bert Sugarman had seen the 230S prototype in Turin and he envisioned building a roadster version of the beautiful car, albeit with the addition of a healthy dose of American V8 horsepower. Mr. Sugarman had the means to make that happen, and he did just that, contracting with Ghia to put his dream into reality. In keeping with Ghia’s long running history with Chrysler Corporation, the Detroit firm was contracted to supply the Plymouth Barracuda Formula S as a foundation for this Italian-American hybrid. Very much more than simply a rebodied Plymouth, the 450SS was constructed from the ground up using traditional Italian coachwork techniques and robust American mechanicals. These hand-built cars were exquisitely crafted from steel, and each car was sold exclusively through a Hollywood dealer at an astounding price tag of over $13,000 in 1967. This was certainly an automobile for a privileged clientele, and thanks in part to that high price, just 52 found buyers. It is believed that just over half of the original production run remains in existence today, making the 450SS an exceedingly rare and desirable automobile from the end of the coachbuilding era.

Year 1966
Coachbuilder Ghia
Brand Ghia
Model 450 SS Convertible
Production Limited
Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro
Horsepower 235

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