<b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901
Lot 55
Rare and Desirable
Multiple Concours d'Elegance entrant
1953 Chrysler Special
Coachwork by Ghia
US$ 550,000 - 750,000
€470,000 - 640,000

Lot Details
<b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901 <b>1953 Chrysler Ghia Special</b><br /> Chassis no. 7231533<br /> Engine no. C53-8-31901
1953 Chrysler Special
Coachwork by Ghia

Chassis no. 7231533
Engine no. C53-8-31901

331ci OHV Chrysler HEMI V8 Engine
Single 2-Barrel Carburetor
180bhp at 4,000rpm
4-Speed Semi-Automatic Transmission
Front Independent Suspension – Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*Very rare and desirable coachbuilt Chrysler
*Outstanding Virgil Exner design
*Impressive period and contemporary show history
*Featured in the September 1953 issue of L'Action Automobile


Chrysler and Ghia

The long and fruitful relationship between Chrysler Corporation and the storied Italian coachbuilder Ghia was launched in 1950 with the Plymouth XX-500 show car, an elegant, four-door fastback built on the chassis of a Plymouth P20. Over the next decade, Ghia would produce for Chrysler a string of more than two dozen "idea cars," the majority of which were masterful Italian executions of designs by the corporation's visionary design chief, Virgil Exner. This sharing of ideas and designs across the Atlantic resulted in cars that were not simply American or Italian, but truly international.

J.T. Keller, who moved from the president's office to the helm of the Chrysler board in 1950, had made a brilliant decision in choosing Ghia as a partner. The carrozzeria, founded in Turin in 1916 by Giacinto Ghia, had been highly regarded for the custom bodies it had designed and created on Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat, Italia, and other chassis before World War II. Its specialty was in creating coachwork for both touring and coachwork, and its lightweight aluminum alloy sports car bodies were some of the most exciting designs of the prewar era.

Its factory destroyed in an Allied bombing raid, Ghia was working to get back on its feet when it produced its bespoke Plymouth and shipped it over to Detroit as a calling card. The coachbuilder had all of the talent that the Detroit automaker would require, and eager for work as it sought to recover from the wartime years, could produce Exner's designs at a tenth of the going price. At the time that Ghia created the XX-500, it was being run by stylist and manager Mario Felice Boano, who had hired Luigi Segre as his chief designer. (Boano would later leave Ghia for Fiat after a dispute with Segre about the degree of Chrysler's involvement in the company.)

Exner had been brought over from Studebaker by Chrysler boss K.T. Keller, who was anxious to jettison the dowdy, three-box designs that were holding the automaker back in the sales race. Exner had breathed excitement into the stolid South Bend brand with his acclaimed Studebaker Starlight Coupe of 1947; Keller was wagering that the designer could do the same for Chrysler.

Put in charge of Chrysler's advance styling studios, Exner assembled a small team that included numerous skilled modelers, as well as a handful of designers chosen from the corporation's art and color section. He also found a key ally in Paul Farago, the owner of a specialty sports car shop near Detroit, whose automotive expertise and fluency in Italian made him an ideal interpreter between Exner, Segre and Boano.

Chrysler had just leaped out in front in the simmering Detroit horsepower race with its new FirePower, a sensational Hemi-head, high-compression V-8, and badly needed some exciting new sheet metal to wrap around it. Exner's response was the K-310 of 1952, a breathtaking coupe that featured flush door handles, a spare tire outline on the trunk lid, a prominent vertical grille, recessed headlamps, fully radiused wheel openings that showed off the chromed wire wheels, and freestanding "gunsight" taillamps, details that would appear on later production cars. Standing just 59 inches high, it announced to the world that providing sufficient headroom for fedoras would no longer be a Chrysler styling priority.

Exner's team sent a 3/8-scale plaster model of the K-310 to Ghia, where the craftsmen hammered out the bodywork. Their pride was evident in their work – the welded body joints were finished without filler for a smooth surface, and the trim work and interior were done to the highest standard. This was the approach Ghia would follow with all of Exner's designs.

Unlike other "dream cars" from Detroit, Ghia's products were fully engineered automobiles, ones that could easily have been put into production, if the buyers showed enough interest. "As a result, they had to be compromised to a certain degree from what you normally would do with strictly a dream car," Exner told automotive journalist Michael Lamm in the early 1970s. "But two or three of them came very close to being built."

The K-310, built on a Chrysler Saratoga chassis, would have given Chrysler a "halo car" for its showrooms, but corporate executives, perhaps still scarred by the memory of the public's rejection of the Airflow, turned down the idea as too risky. Still, the sporty, luxurious coupe captured the imagination of buyers, who saw it in the pages of their favorite magazines, and on display at shows.

After the C-200, essentially a convertible take on the K-310, a pair of similar Chrysler "Styling Specials," labeled "S.S." by Exner, made the jump from the designer's basement drawing board to the carrozzeria's factory. These were commissioned not by Chrysler directly, but by the corporation's export manager, Cecil Beaton "C.B." Thomas, and it was with these cars that the Exner-Ghia connection truly hit its stride.

The first of the two was a three-passenger fastback coupe built on the shortened 119-inch chassis of the New Yorker. This sophisticated, European-influenced design featured a long hood/short trunk profile, a trapezoidal grille, push-button door latches, a modest up kick in the rear fender line, and smoothly flowing sides. The blunt prow of the front fenders, attributed to Exner's son, Virgil Exner, Jr., continued back as a ridge that folded neatly down into the bodywork just ahead of the front doors. The coupe was a major hit of the 1952 Paris Salon, drawing admiring crowds to the Chrysler stand.

The second S.S. arrived one year later. Built for C.B. himself, and distinguished by its two-piece windshield, the Chrysler Thomas Special was a more mature concept that, with its full 125.5-inch New Yorker chassis and notchback roofline, could accommodate five passengers. It could carry their luggage, too -- unlike the fastback, which provided space for luggage only behind the front seats, the Thomas Special had a useable trunk. Of all the idea cars, this was the most obvious candidate yet for limited production. Which is precisely what happened.

At the urging of Thomas, Chrysler commissioned six Chrysler Ghia Specials, and permitted Ghia to build another 12 for its clients. These cars were virtually identical to the Thomas Special, with the exception of their one-piece windshields and slight changes in trim. All were built for the European market. The Ghia Specials were powered by the 180-hp FirePower V-8, and equipped with either a four-speed semiautomatic transmission with Fluid Torque Drive or the completely automatic two-speed PowerFlite that took its place late in the 1953 model year.

Recognized from new as special cars, many of the 18 built are still in existence, including one example owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and once displayed at the now closed Walter P. Chrysler Museum.

The Ghia Specials represented a renaissance of something that had virtually vanished before the war: the coachbuilt motorcar. By combining one of the hottest powertrains of its day, pulse-quickening styling, Old World craftsmanship, and limited production numbers, Chrysler and Ghia had jointly created something extraordinary for a handful of lucky owners.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

This numbers-matching example was equipped with Fluid-Torque Drive, power steering, heavy duty seat springs and a heavy-duty suspension. It was delivered new by Chrysler's French importer, Société France Motors, to industrialist Leon Coulibeuf, who had made a fortune in the manufacture of concrete electric poles used in the millions in the rebuilding of post-war Europe.

Coulibeuf was an avid automotive enthusiast and a gentleman racer who competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and numerous other events. His best finish was in 1956, when he took 14th place in the automotive Tour de France in an Alfa Romeo Guilietta Veloce. Among his personal cars were a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupe, a Porsche 356 and an Alfa Romeo 1900, all fitting choices for a connoisseur.

This example was shown by Coulibeuf's wife at the 1953 concours d'elegance of Enghien-les-Bains in France, and featured in the September 1953 issue of the French magazine L'Action Automobile.

Little is known about the car's history between Coulibeuf's ownership and its discovery in the 1990s by Jacques Pelve, a Chrysler dealer in Brittany. Found on the premises of a factory near Rennes, France, the coupe was in poor condition, though it retained the red-and-white paintwork and the license plate – 4756-CC75 – that it had worn while on display at the Enghien-les-Bains concours some four decades earlier.

The original Chrysler build sheet confirmed that the Hemi FirePower V-8 under the hood of the Ghia Special was the original. Jacques Pelve undertook a painstaking restoration of the car, and had it refinished in appropriate two-tone blue paintwork. Completed in the summer of 2001, the coupe was invited to the Louis Vuitton concours d'elegance at Bagatelle that year, and captured the award for "most exciting design" at the concours d'élégance of Zoute Grand Prix in Knokke, Belgium, in October 2014. It was also on display at the Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza in 2015.

The Chrysler Ghia Special presented here represents a rare opportunity to own a rare coach built and breathtakingly beautiful post war automobile.
Activities
Auction information

Click here to download Registration Packet

Auction Time

Quail Lodge Auction
Friday, August 18th 10am

Preview Times

All preview days are open to the public:
Wednesday, August 16th 9am-6pm
Thursday, August 17th 9am-6pm
Friday, August 18th 8.30am-10am

Admission to Preview & Auction

Registration Fee - $150: (for attendees only) includes one Auction Catalogue, one Gallery Guide, and entry for two people.

All Bonhams auctions are open to the public. The Quail Lodge Preview and Auction admission fees are:
- $100: Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction Catalogue (allows two people entry)
- $20: Gallery Guide (allows one person entry) 

The 20th annual Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction will be an historic event in auction history. Scheduled for Friday, the 18th of August, during the famous Monterey Peninsula / Pebble Beach Car Week, Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction in Carmel, California, boasts a remarkable line-up of collector's motorcars

As always, Bonhams is pleased to hold its 20th annual Quail Lodge Auction in conjunction with The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering 2017. Malcolm Barber, Bonhams Co-Chairman, adds, "it's been a pleasure to partner with The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, one of the world's premier collector car events, and bring a truly blue chip selection of motorcars to Carmel."

Please note that Bonhams' preview and auction does not require a ticket to The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

Please Note:

The final bid (hammer) price of each lot will be subject to a buyer's premium. For MOTOR VEHICLE property the premium is 10% of the hammer price.

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer. A processing fee will be assessed on any returned checks. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact motors.us@bonhams.com.

Special Car Dealer Notices

Dealers licence, number 49015

Contacts
  1. Jakob Greisen
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    Bonhams
    Work
    220 San Bruno Avenue
    San Francisco, United States 94103
    Work +1 415 503 3284
    FaxFax: +1 415 391 4040
Similar Items