Chrysler D’Elegance

1952 Chrysler D’Elegance by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | December 6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The relationship between Chrysler and Ghia resulted in quite a few different designs during the 1950s. There were a series of Chrysler Specials including this one and this one. There were concept cars and the relationship bore fruit for DeSoto as well. Ghia benefited too, with Chrysler powering the Dual-Ghia and Ghia’s sports cars.

The car you see here, the D’Elegance, was a show car bodied for Chrysler by Ghia on a shortened New Yorker chassis. It’s a gorgeous two-seater with a built-in spare tire where the trunk would be. The engine is a 280 horsepower, 5.8-liter Firepower V-8.

This car has been listed as a 1952 or 1953 in various places, but it was built in 1952 and debuted at the 1952 Paris Auto Show. Each of these Italian-bodied 1950s Chryslers is different, bringing their own heightened sense of style and flair to what was already a stylish automotive landscape in the 1950s. This is definitely one of the best-looking of the lot and it should bring between $900,000-$1,100,000 at auction this December. Note: it sold for $946,000 in August of 2011. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Abarth 1100 Ghia

1953 Abarth 1100 Sport by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

In 1949, Carlo Abarth jumped off of the sinking ship that was Cisitalia to start his own business… utilizing the leftovers of Cisitalia. It started with sports cars and today is a trim level of sporty Fiats. Abarth only built cars in limited numbers and the 1100 you see here is a one-off.

There was a car called the Abarth 205 and they took a chassis from that car and fitted Fiat’s new 1100 engine to it. The car was sent to Ghia for this incredible Jet Age body, and voila! Originally, Fiat’s 1.1-liter straight-four made about 35 horsepower. Abarth no doubt increased that figure.

This Ghia masterpiece has all the right little details, not to mention a brilliant blue interior that will blow you away because you just don’t expect the vividness it provides. Exhibited initially by Ghia at the 1953 Turin Salon, this car was later shown at the 1954 New York Auto Show by its first owner, who re-christened it the “Vaughn SS Wildcat,” with V-8 underhood.

The car was rediscovered in 1982 and the current owner had it restored in 2015, correct Fiat engine re-installed. It’s an awesome – and remarkably small – 1950s Italian design. You’ll be the only one with anything like it. Click here for more info and here for more from RM Sotheby’s in Monterey.

Update: Sold $891,000.

Ghia Streamline X

1955 Ghia Streamline X Coupe

Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 21, 2017

Photo – Barrett-Jackson

We generally don’t feature cars on Saturdays, but I’m making an exception here for two reasons: 1. the ownership history of this car tells me it is unlikely to come up for sale again anytime soon (if it sells) and 2. I just turned on Barrett-Jackson on Velocity for coverage of Friday’s sale (as I watch RM Sotheby’s on my laptop) and I happened to look at their catalog (which I was doing almost daily for about a month) and I found this car. It wasn’t in their catalog when I finalized the cars we were going to feature from Arizona’s sales but appeared as a late-add by Barrett-Jackson (or, at least, not a timely addition).

Anyway, we’re here, so let’s talk about what this is. Built at the the request of Chrysler chief Virgil Exner, this Ghia-bodied streamliner is the perfect Jet Age concept car. Why? Well it’s powered by a turbine for starters. It only puts out 70 horsepower (and idles at a bat shit crazy 54,000 rpm), but in the world of turbines and sleek aerodynamics, it was theoretically enough power to push this thing to 140-160 mph. The only cars doing that kind of speed in 1955 were doing it on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans.

It debuted at the 1955 Turin Auto Show and was dubbed “Gilda.” The interior (and the engine compartment) are wild and hearken back to an era when people dreamed of the “car of tomorrow.” Ghia eventually put it on display at the Henry Ford Museum where it stayed until 1969 when it was acquired by Bill Harrah. The Blackhwak Museum got it when that collection was dispersed and the current owner bought it in 2005. It’s been to Pebble Beach, Ville d’Este, and was even a no-sale at a Gooding auction years back.

Now Barrett-Jackson is featuring it as the wildest car in their lineup this year (well that, and this). Anyway, I’m writing this late on a Friday night for a Saturday morning post because it was starting to make me sick to my stomach that I was potentially missing out on featuring a car I’d never see offered for public sale again – it has, after all, spent most of its life in museums. Click here for more info. Price? Well the Blackhawk was offering it for $125,000 in 2001 and it no-sold at Gooding with an estimate of $1.0-1.3 million. Expect the owner to want more than that at Barrett-Jackson later today.

Update: Not sold.

Alfa Romeo Sprint Supergioiello

1953 Alfa Romeo 1900C Sprint Supergioiello by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monaco | May 14, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

This might look more like a coachbuilt classic than a rally car, but it turns out that it is both. The Alfa Romeo 1900C was the short wheelbase version of the 1900. The 1900 was built between 1950 and 1959 with the C having been introduced in 1951.

It is powered by a 1.9-liter straight-four making 100 horsepower. This car was bodied by Ghia and is one of 18 such examples built (and was apparently the final one). It was sold new in Spain and used extensively for rallying between 1954 and 1961. It actually ran in the 1955 Monte Carlo Rally with owner Gumersindo Garcia Fernandez at the wheel.

This car has spent most of its life in Spain and Portugal but was restored in Italy recently. It looks fantastic and the numbers on the door give away its racing past, even if those wire wheels don’t. It should sell for between $555,000-$660,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Ghia 450 SS

1967 Ghia 450 SS

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Houston, Texas | April 23, 2016

Photo - Worldwide Auctioneers

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

Carrozzeria Ghia is primarily known as a coachbuilder that was founded in Turin in 1916 by Giacinto Ghia. Ghia bodies have appeared on cars from many marques, from Alfa Romeo to Volkswagen to a series of Chrysler cars. There was a short period of time where the company built a few of their own cars. Three models to be exact, with this being the sportiest.

The 450 SS was a convertible (with removable hard top) that was offered between 1966 and 1967. It started as a concept car where Ghia put a convertible body on a Fiat 2100 sedan. A Hollywood producer convinced Ghia to put it into production, using a 235 horsepower, 4.5-liter Chrysler V-8 instead of whatever Fiat powerplant they were considering. The stuff underneath was now based on a Plymouth Barracuda.

Think of it as an Italian muscle car (like the Iso Grifo). They only built 56 of these and it is believed that about 26 remain. This one has never been restored, but carries 59,000 miles and fresh servicing. You’ll never pass another one on the road. It should bring between $120,000-$140,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $151,250.

Ghia 1500 GT

1965 Ghia 1500 GT

Offered by Coys | Essen, Germany | April 9, 2016

Photo - Coys

Photo – Coys

Carrozzeria Ghia is primarily known for their custom bodies that they apply to other people’s cars. There’s a little more history about that coming in a future post, but I’ll keep it short and say that Ghia built a few models of their own in the 1960s. This, the 1500 GT, is one of them.

This 1500 GT is powered by a Fiat 1.5-liter straight-four with power ratings varying based on whom you ask, but it was probably somewhere around 73 horsepower. Top speed was over 100 mph and it is said that this is a fantastic sounding car for having such a tiny motor.

The cars were only built between 1963 and 1966 and about 300 were made. It was bought by an American soldier in 1967 and it returned stateside with him in 1970. It went to Canada in 1987 but just sat there. The current owner, who acquired it much more recently, restored it. It should bring between $72,500 and $106,000. Click here for more info and here for more info.

Update: Sold $71,900.

Coachbuilt Classics at Rétromobile

Coachbuilt Classics at Rétromobile

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 5, 2016


1951 Salmson G72 Coupe by Saoutchik

Photo - Artcurial

Photo – Artcurial

Salmson, the French auto manufacturer, built cars up through 1957. They had a range of sedans and two-doors. This is a G72, a model introduced in 1950. Most G72s were sedans, but some of them were sent to coachbuilders for something a little more fancy. Power was supplied by a 2.3-liter straight-four.

This car was bodied by Saoutchik, the legendary French coachbuilder. It was repainted some 25 years ago but otherwise it is original. Only 254 of this series of the G72 were produced and this one carries a one-off body. It should bring between $175,000-$240,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $207,019


1953 Renault Frégate Ondine Cabriolet by Ghia

Photo - Artcurial

Photo – Artcurial

The Renault Frégate was Renault’s executive sedan that they built between 1951 and 1960. Estate wagons were available as well, under different names. Renault showed a convertible at the 1953 Paris Motor Show, but it never entered production. Later, three more examples were shown and two disappeared. It is believed this is the only survivor of those cars.

The body is actually made of some kind of polyester blend. We’re really not sure what that means, but the engine is likely a 2.0-liter straight-four. The restoration was completed in the 1990s and it is believed that this car was used by legendary French singer Edith Piaf in the 1950s. It is the only car like it and it should bring between $87,000-$110,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Artcurial.

Update: Sold $86,814.


1939 Graham-Paige Type 97 Supercharged Cabriolet by Pourtout

Photo - Artcurial

Photo – Artcurial

The Graham brothers of Dearborn, Michigan, began producing their own trucks in 1922 after years of modifying Fords. That company was bought by Dodge in 1925 and the brothers joined Dodge’s board. But when Chrysler took over Dodge in 1928, the Graham brand was soon phased out. Good thing the brothers bought the Paige-Detroit Motor Company in 1927.

So in 1928, the Graham-Paige marque was introduced. In 1938 they introduced a bold (and awesome) new style that they built in low quantities through 1941. After the war, the automotive portion of the company was acquired by Kaiser-Frazer (which never reintroduced the Graham-Paige automobile brand), but Graham-Paige, strangely, soldiered on as a real estate company into the 1960s before becoming the Madison Square Garden Corporation. Weird, huh?

Anyway, the Type 97 Supercharged was built in 1938 and 1939. It is powered by a supercharged 3.5-liter straight-six making 115 horsepower. This car left Graham-Paige as a coupe (they didn’t offer a convertible) and made its way to France to be bodied by Pourtout in Paris. It may be the only such car with this body. It has been restored and should sell for between $165,000-$215,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $186,985.

Update: Sold, RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2017, $770,000.


1949 Delahaye 135MS Coupe by Ghia

Photo - Artcurial

Photo – Artcurial

The Delahaye 135 was one of their best models. It lasted (in some form) between 1935 and 1954. The 135MS was the sportiest version – sometimes it was a race car, and sometimes it was a road car. It was the final Delahaye car available for purchase before the brand was phased out.

Bodies for the car varied widely. This car, with its covered wheels and sort of boxy design, was styled by Ghia in Turin. It’s beautiful. The engine is a 3.6-liter straight-six making 120 horsepower. It was built for the Shah of Iran who owned it until the late 1950s when it went back to Europe. Since then it spent time in the Blackhawk Collection and the John O’Quinn collection. The restoration was carried out sometime in the early 1990s. It’s a wonderful car and one of three Delahaye 135s styled by Ghia. It should sell for between $210,000-$285,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $180,307.


1951 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport by Dubos

Photo - Artcurial

Photo – Artcurial

The Talbot-Lago T26 Record was a car introduced by Talbot-Lago in 1946. In late 1947, a Grand Sport version was introduced, which included a more powerful 4.5-liter straight-six making 190 horsepower (in this form). Grand Sport cars (that weren’t race cars) were all sent out to coachbuilders to have some of the best designs of the period attached to them.

This one went to Carrossier Louis Dubos near Paris for this elegant cabriolet that, while originally black, looks glorious in white. Never completely restored, mechanical bits have been redone as needed. This is one of three T26s bodied by Dubos and the only Grand Sport to wear one of their bodies. It should sell for between $260,000-$350,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $293,834.

Cadillac Series 62 Coupe by Ghia

1953 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 28-29, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

When you think of 50s Cadillacs, you think big fins. But 1953 was a pre-fin year and everything was a little more restrained. The Series 62 was the entry-level Cadillac from 1952 through 1968 when it’s name was changed. The series was introduced in 1940.

In 1953, Ghia of Italy ordered two Cadillac Series 62 Convertible chassis and had them shipped to Italy. They applied this gorgeous, stylized black coupe body with gold accents all around. The engine is the standard 5.4-liter V-8 making 210 horsepower.

This car has slightly different styling than its sister car at the front and passed through the Blackhawk Collection more than 20 years ago before its current owners acquired it around the time of its restoration. As a 1950s American chassis with an Italian body – and it being one of two – it will be pricey. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,430,000.

Cisitalia 505 DF

1953 Cisitalia 505 DF by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | London, U.K. | September 7, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Piero Dusio’s Cisitalia is most well-known for their sports cars and race cars in the immediate post-war period. The Cisitalia 202 is a highly sought after Italian sporting classic. But as time went on, open-top sports cars needed to give way to slightly more sensible cars if the company were to survive.

Unfortunately that strategy didn’t work either. The 505 DF is one of the rarest Cisitalia models. Introduced in 1953 at the Geneva show, it was based on the Fiat 1900 and uses the Fiat’s 1.9-liter straight-four making 79 horsepower. The very pretty body is by Ghia. It’s so smooth, with very few lines. Look how slick that rear panel looks. You can’t even see the door gaps.

Sold new to a Swiss owner, this car spent a lot of its early life in Switzerland before going to Germany. The restoration was completed in 2011. At most, 10 of these were built and only two survive. The other one is not roadworthy, making this the best one in the world. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $224,224.

XK120 Supersonic

1952 Jaguar XK120 Supersonic by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 13-15, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

When the Jaguar XK120 was introduced in 1948, it was the fastest production car in the world with a top speed of over 120 mph. It had classic Jaguar styling that would stay with Jaguar cars for decades. But what happens when you take a classic British sports car and send it to Italy? This. This happens.

This awesome, futuristic sports car is unrecognizable as a Jaguar, certainly as an XK120. It looks strikingly similar to an Aston Martin Supersonic of similar vintage. First of all, this car is powered by a 220 horsepower 3.4-liter straight-six – making it one of the most-powerful XK120s in the world. It was originally an XK120 Fixed-Head Coupe sent to a dealer in Paris, who then sent it (and another car) to Ghia for a Jet Age makeover.

This car remained in France most of its life and has been repainted in the last 10 years – but everything else is original, including the 22,000 kilometers on the odometer. Only three XK120s were blessed with the Supersonic treatment. Only two are still around, as the body from the third is now on a Shelby Cobra. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $2,062,500.