Power is supplied by a 315-inch Hemi engine with a PowerFlite attached.
Posh accommodations in the interior let all who enter know this is no ordinary luxo-cruise
The Dual-Ghia was a favorite car of entertainment personalities during the madcap days of the '50s. The A-list of owners included popular Hollywood celebrities such as Debbie Reynolds, Lucille Ball, and Frank Sinatra. Each owned one of these cars at one time or another, and so did a few of Sinatra's pals in the infamous Rat Pack. Rat-Packer Peter Lawford even drove one on his television series, The Thin Man. The Dual-Ghia was a custom-built sports car featuring a perfect combination of Italian styling and Chrysler engineering.
In the early '50s, American auto shows were deluged with sporty coupe and roadster concept cars. Chevrolet's Corvette was the first of these to go into production in 1953. Harley Earl's GM studios also created the Oldsmobile F-88 roadster and the Olds Rocket V-8-powered Cutlass. Pontiac featured its Bonneville Special, and Buick showed its Wildcat and Wildcat II. Ford created two unusual cars: the FX Atmos and the Muroc. Chrysler displayed the Virgil Exner-designed, Ghia-built Firearrow. With the exception of Ford's two vehicles, most of these show cars were realistic interpretations of the automobile designer's vision of a personal sporty car.
The Ghia-Chrsyler connection began in 1951 with Ghia's execution of the K-310 show car designed by Virgil Exner. Chrysler continued to use Ghia's craftsmen to create other show cars, including a series based on the Firearrow. These cars were so popular that Chrysler investigated the possibility of producing a Firearrow on a limited basis. Although it was initially appealing, Chrysler soon abandoned the idea. That was when Detroit industrialist Gene Casaroll stepped in. Casaroll was the head of Auto Shippers Company and Dual Motors Corporation, an enterprise that built twin-engine vehicles for the military during the war.
Casaroll acquired the rights to the Firearrow. He instructed his chief engineer, Paul Farago, to make the necessary modifications to the design for the American market. Casarole renamed his new car The Firebomb. In 1955, the first prototype Dual-Ghia was built; production began in 1956 and ended in 1958.
The Dual-Ghia concept used the rugged, dependable, and well-proven Dodge chassis, engines, and transmissions. This use of humble underpinnings allowed the car to be repaired locally with standard Mopar parts. The Ghia facility in Turin, Italy, headed by Luigi Segre, was chosen to craft the elegant bodies. Once complete, the bodies were shipped to Detroit and mated to the chassis. The Dual-Ghia used a shortened Dodge passenger car chassis. Dodge also provided the Hemi engine and Powerflite transmission. This made for an impressive package, especially since the optional Dodge D-500 Hemi's horsepower ratings were consistently higher than those of the Corvette.
In the '50s, it was rare to see a show car turned into a production vehicle. This stylish car, an unlikely marriage between Chrysler and Ghia, became an instant hit in Hollywood. The Dual-Ghia was the car to be driving when pulling up to the entrance of the Brown Derby restaurant on Hollywood and Vine or swanky Romanoff's on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. One gossip columnist even commented that the Rolls Royce was for the Hollywood rich who couldn't get a Dual-Ghia.
Mike Stowe now owns this '58 Dual-Ghia. It was delivered in 1958 to a customer in France. The car was later returned to the States and was once owned and driven by singer Hoagie Carmichael. Eventually, the Dual-Ghia was given to Stowe's son Randy, who took it to a shop for restoration. After nine years of frustration over the incomplete restoration, Randy sold it to the older Stowe. The car was delivered in pieces: five trucks filled with boxed parts. Prior to the restoration process, Mike researched the car's history extensively. He even traveled to California to see completed cars. He assembled the car prior to its restoration to ensure he had all of the correct pieces.
After a year and a half, the Dual-Ghia was complete. It is finished in a unique PPG color called Silk Khaki. Mike had leather hides designed for the interior. They were tanned to match the elegant exterior color. Its first showing was at the Bay Harbor Concours d'Elegance, where it was awarded the People's Choice Award. In 2001, Mike was invited to bring his Dual-Ghia to the grand daddy of all car shows: the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it was awarded second place in the Post-War Custom Coach Work class. In 2002, it was awarded a blue ribbon at the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance, and in 2003, it was awarded Best in Class and Best in Show at the prestigious Amelia Island Coucours d'Elegance.
The Dual-Ghia stands as one of Chrysler's most unique spin-off automobiles. It featured classic European styling combined with proven American Hemi muscle.
'58 HandBuilt Dual-Ghia
Boyne City, MI
Engine: Yeah, it's got a Hemi, but it's an old one. at 315 inches, these first behemoths weren't as powerful as current configurations, but they hauled the mail back then.
Transmission: It took the pre-TorqueFlite PowerFlite to hold up to the Hemi of the day.
Differential: Stock 8-3/4.
Horsepower and Performance: this ain't no race car.
Suspension: These cars were based on the Chrysler 300, so torsion bars and rear parallel leafs are the fare. It's all stock on this rare bird.
Brakes: Push and pray, but it's not a daily driver anymore.
Body: The car's body was designed by Chrysler, and the design was fairly conservative. It features single headlamps and slab-sided features, avoiding fins and other styling gimmicks. A four-place convertible was the only offering. A Dodge frame and drivetrain was transported to Italy, where the bodywork was fabricated by the Italian coach-builder Ghia.
Paint: a unique PPG color called Silk Khaki.
Interior: Custom-designed leather for the interior. The parts were tanned to match the elegant exterior color.