Monterey | Lot 245
1955 Chrysler ST Special by Ghia
$527,500 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
25 August 2018
- The 1955 Turin Motor Show car; one of four built
- Among the last and rarest of the Ghia “Chrysler Specials”
- Fully restored in its striking original color scheme
- Hemi performance and Italian brio, an irresistible combination
In the years immediately following World War II, Chrysler Corporation came to realize that having their show cars bodied overseas was a win-win situation. Renowned Italian coachbuilder Ghia could produce handsome, beautifully detailed automobiles, and at a cost much lower than contemporary American shops. The result was a series of memorable show cars, largely styled by Virgil Exner’s Chrysler studio and produced by Ghia between 1951 and 1959.
The Ghia Chryslers attracted enough attention in Europe that French Chrysler importer Charles Ladouch worked with the factory to have a limited number of so-called Chrysler Specials produced by Ghia to modified versions of the show car designs. Several different series were produced.
Among the rarest was the modern ST Special of 1954–1955, based on the Chrysler New Yorker and sharing its bumper, headlights, and instrument panel with a body that was lower, sleek, and genuinely Italian. By this point Chrysler’s corporate influence in the design of the “Specials” had waned, and Ghia was more or less free to build the car they wanted, with subtle lines that included a beltline crease, subtly finned rear fenders with bladed taillights, and a low roofline reminiscent of their coupes on Alfa Romeo chassis. Only the radiused fenders and imposing chrome grille, bearing the Ghia crest, bore resemblance to earlier Ghia Chryslers. Power was provided by a 250-hp Hemi V-8 and two-speed PowerFlite automatic transmission. Just four examples of the ST Special were produced, two each for French and Italian customers.
The car offered here was exhibited at the 1955 Turin Motor Show, finished as it is today in copper with an ivory roof, Havana leather interior, and ivory dashboard. It was subsequently acquired by Oscar Lacroix, CEO of the French plastics company Gilac, and was registered in Paris in October 1955 as 8996 EK 75. Reportedly it changed hands three further times before ending up, in the late 1960s, at a Chrysler dealership in Puteaux, from which it was saved by an early enthusiast.
After time in Normandy, the car was acquired by the current owner in 2014 as a complete project, with the body already largely prepared, and the engine and gearbox already overhauled. A complete nut-and-bolt restoration was then completed by a well-known shop in the Southern U.S., with the car returned to the original color scheme, as it had been shown in Turin. The level of detail throughout is fabulous, and the car still looks the part of a glamorous show car, intended to draw the attention of film stars and wealthy debutantes.
Ready for exhibiting at virtually any concours d’elegance, this spectacular ST Special is in the first rank of transatlantic design and engineering, from its glory days of the mid-1950s. It is a full-course meal of fine detail and exquisite craftsmanship.