By on April 2, 2018

The Rare Rides series started off in the early part of 2017 with a concept Ghia that was all Ford underneath. A year later we featured the Quicksilver, which wore Lincoln badges. And more recently, a Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia caught our brougham attention.

Time for some change, and to have a look at a Ghia which is all Chrysler beneath its luxury fittings and beautiful styling.

Dual isn’t the name of this convertible, but rather the manufacturer which offered it for sale. The Dual Motors Company was founded in the 1940s by businessman Eugene Casaroll. In addition to building dual-engine (hence the name) military vehicles for use in WWII, the company contracted with Chrysler to take care of its automotive shipping needs.

Working closely with Chrysler, Casaroll took an interest in its cars, and one concept in particular. It was the Ghia-bodied Dodge Firebomb concept, which was designed by Virgil Exner and debuted in 1955. After Chrysler decided it would not build the concept convertible, the automaker sold it to Casaroll. He hired car designer Paul Farago to slightly alter the design (adding fins and passenger space) and ready it for mass production. Dual was going into the luxury car business.

Production began in 1956, and involved the sort of cross-continental shipping Mr. Casaroll was used to. First, Dodge D-500 chassis were shipped over to Ghia in Turin, Italy. There, they took some inches off the wheelbase and attached the hand-built coupe bodies.

200 man hours per car was required to shape the lines we see here, and fit the utterly beautiful interior. This meant production was slow — limited to about a dozen cars per month. Though the body was Italian, and English leather covered the interior, the Dual-Ghia retained an American drivetrain. It’s a Hemi V8, mated to a PowerFlite automatic (two speeds is plenty).

This extreme level of craftsmanship and luxury didn’t come cheap; the Dual-Ghia rang in at $7,500, or $200 more than the pinnacle of American luxury, the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. The high pricing wouldn’t work to Dual’s favor, even though the car found famous owners like Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, and Desi Arnaz. Costs outmatched revenue, and production of the Dual-Ghia was finished by 1958. The Dual Motors Corporation was no more.

All told, just 117 Dual-Ghias were produced. The numbers of known examples have dwindled over the years, now standing at only 30. This particular example received a no-expense-spared restoration to concours-level quality, winning a ribbon at Pebble Beach in 2010.

Everything’s functional and in perfect condition — as well it should be. The seller wants $499,900. An interesting, quick blip in the American car industry, the Dual-Ghia is one to remember.

[Images via seller]

 

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26 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Extremely Luxurious 1958 Dual-Ghia Convertible...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this one.

    What a vehicle. Exner inspired, at his pinnacle.

    Associated with the Rat Pack. Dean Martin is seen driving one in a movie. He and The Chairman of the Board both owned one.

    So rare that even many petrolheads don’t know of them. I could not even include one in my ‘dream garage’ due to their rarity and cost.

    Could this be what Iacocca was hoping to emulate with his Maseratti TC by Chrsyler?

    • 0 avatar

      The Allante is the same idea too!

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Dual, TC, Allante. How can anyone think that shipping cars back and forth to Italy for manufacture is ever going to be a profitable venture?

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @CCG – There have been certain contexts when contracting with a European firm could save money. Nash, I believe, saved money by contracting with Austin and Fisher & Ludlow to build the Metropolitan. Ghia, I’m guessing, was working relatively cheaply for Chrysler in the late ’50s.

        The Allante and TC projects, however, seem insane and were perceived as such by many people at the time.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          Yes, but the Metropolitan was manufactured in Europe, they weren’t sending components to England and then shipping completed cars back to the US. It’s the 2 way shipping that seems so insane.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Stunning.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Lovely car.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Corey check this gem out:
    https://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/d/1991-toyota-cressidaoriginal/6547415923.html

    Saddled with the base 2.0L 1GFE I6 which I’m sure is insanely smooth but just plain short on HP IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      I like it, looks very comfy.

      But that’s some crazy money for what amounts to nothing too special. Just find a Cressida.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Yeah, but a 23k mile Cressida?

        This is one of those neither here nor there things. It looks like it’d make a fabulous, relaxing daily commuter, but the low mileage and rarity and RHD put it more into “fair weather weekend play-thing.”

        I’d rather find a higher mile but maintained Cressida in reasonable cosmetic condition for like $3k so I could actually use it regularly. I passed up a clean ’90 low mileage 3 years ago that a guy had listed for $2500. Drove well but needed A/C work “just needs to be recharged.” The closest driving experience I can compare it to is a 2.6L W190 Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I kinda miss those old sound systems whose controls covered the same area as a small hardback book. Wall of sound, dontcha know.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Oh, I love those X80 hardtops. 135hp is definitely for leisurely cruising, though. Nice thing is the ’91 already has a JZ-compatible crossmember, so the swap is pretty straightforward. Everyone goes turbo, but I’d rather have a nonturbo 2JZ; essentially a late ’80s style IS300.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Nice. Not a total surprise though as the Imperial was the benchmark for American luxury at the time.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Well, Ghia was a trim that stood for luxury, so certainly a Dual-Ghia must be twice the car, no?

  • avatar
    Mickiemac1

    Beautiful Car. I remember a TV show back in the late 50’s- The Thin Man starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. They drove a Dual-Ghia in many of the episodes when motoring from crime scene to crime scene. If I recall, Peter Lawford was a member of the ‘Rat Pack’ so maybe the car was his or someone associated with him.

    Those were the days!

  • avatar
    TW5

    The opening shot flatters an already well-proportioned body. Beautiful.

    It’s too bad body-on-frame sedans aren’t a thing anymore, and coach builders can’t make one-offs.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Dennis Collins got $379,500 for Chassis Number 101 (the first production car) last year at the Worldwide auction at Pebble Beach, after a 14-month restoration. The eBay ad says this auction has ended, with zero bids, after a starting bid of $447,770.00. So, it looks like the market says that Chassis Number 197 isn’t worth more than Chassis Number 101.

  • avatar
    relton

    Note that while the car is titled as a 1958 model, it is still using a 1954 instrument cluster and steering wheel, and other parts of the interior look suspiciously like a 54 New Yorker.

    The engine compartment shows a mixture of older parts also. The generator/power steering pump is 54 or 55 at the newest.

    The air cleaner and power brake booster are 57-8 Chrysler parts, though.

    If it has a 2 speed automatic, the transmission is a PowerFlite, not a TorqueFlite.

    There was a newer version, built in the early 60s, also using Chrysler parts.

    These are interesting cars, no doubt.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    “All tolled…”?

    C’mon, now.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Unfortunately Ghia ended up as a trim designation on Ford Europe vehicles, it started off well – the mk2 early 80s Granada Ghia X is a collectors item, but by 2010 it conjured up images of tatty Fiestas and Escorts, and was axed in favour of “Titanium” and now “Vignale” (another Italian coachbuilder)

  • avatar

    Nice car! Don’t much care for the “tacked on” fins, but I can overlook that. Thanks for the article, Corey.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    If only it was possible to custom body an AMG beast to look like this but work like that…. Excuse me while I go dream for a while.


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