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  • One of just 57 450 SS’s built by Ghia.
  • Italian coachwork with reliable American mechanicals.
  • Largely original three-owner example with long-term West Coast history

Carrozzeria Ghia dates to 1916 when the design house was established in Turin, Italy; primarily fashioning lightweight bodes for Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia. During 1953-1963, roughly the time when Virgil Exner was head of styling at Chrysler, the two companies shared a close partnership developing such notables as the Ghia Specials, the Norseman concept, the Imperial Crown Limousines, and the Dual-Ghia.

The March 1965 cover of Road & Track magazine featured a Ghia-bodied Fiat 2300 dubbed the Ghia G 230S, and Burt Sugarman of Los Angeles, California was smitten. Sugarman managed to convey his enthusiasm to both Ghia and Chrysler, no doubt willing to collaborate due to their long-standing past relationship. This led to the Ghia 450 SS, a Plymouth Barracuda Formula S - including its 235 bhp 273 cu. in. “Commando” V-8 - in fancy clothes.

The idea of marrying Italian coachbuilding to robust American mechanicals was nothing new. The problem? The Barracuda was $3,000.00 and the Ghia 450SS . . . nearly $12,000.00! Each car was hand-built in Italy of steel (not fiberglass) over tubular framework and sold exclusively through a Hollywood dealer. Luxury sports car appointments were standard, including leather upholstery, power steering and brakes, air conditioning, Chrysler’s torsion bar rallye suspension, Torqueflite automatic transmission, and Pirelli “Cinturato” high-speed tires fitted to Borrani chrome wire wheels. Unfortunately, the market spoke and just 57 were built. About 30 are believed to remain today. Mopar mechanicals add to the ease of finding mechanical parts and servicing the 450SS, while the Italian coachwork and limited production add to the car’s desirability.

This is a largely original, three-owner car finished in silver over a black interior. Having spent the majority of its life in California, the car’s second owner, a California-based collector, purchased it from the family of the first owner in Beverley Hills. Clearly having benefitted from being well preserved in the dry California climate, it presents as well preserved in largely original condition. Acquired by the consignor in 2010, it has been used sparingly since, but started regularly. It was last shown at MacPherson College in 2018; a perfect opportunity for its new owner to share the car with others who may not be familiar with such an unique and stylish automobile from the 1960s. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo20.

RM Sotheby's
5 Heron Square
United Kingdom
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