Market Finds: This Is A Stunning Coachbuilt Ghia With Surprising American Roots

This Is A Stunning Coachbuilt Ghia With Surprising American Roots

By Petrolicious Productions
November 17, 2015

Photography courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Simply named the Special, after the overwhelming attention at its 1952 Paris Salon debut, Export Manager Cecil Beaton convinced his bosses at Chrysler to produce the Special in a limited run…exclusively for the European market. Wait, what?

During the ’50s, automobile manufacturers were still frequently utilizing coachbuilders for popular concepts-turned-limited-run machines for well-to-do and more discerning clients. Stuck with a conservative post-war aesthetic language, Chrysler Design Chief Virgil Exner collaborated frequently with Ghia on several projects, with this particular car based on the standard New Yorker chassis.

Completed mid-production cycle, this particular example is arguably the most famous of the mere 18 built. Originally sold in Switzerland, renowned collector Paul Stern added this Special to his stable during the ’70s. Praised restorer Fran Roxas became acting caretaker in 1982, when the car underwent a complete restoration.

The two-tone treatment mimics the Paris Motor Show cars’ but retains this Special’s original metallic green color scheme. Once the restoration was completed, it was featured on a 1994 cover of Collector Automobile Magazine.

Having been owned by the Chrysler obsessive, and restored by some of the world’s finest craftsman, this “Ghia-bodied New Yorker” is more than the sum of its parts. Its soul may have been born in Detroit, but its style apes Italian sporting GTs of the period.

Considering how few were crafted, it’s astonishing how influential the Special has been, and continues to be, yet, after staring at the photos, is it really that surprising?


  • Concept debuted at the 1952 Paris Salon
  • One of 18 produced in collaboration with Ghia
  • Restored by Fran Roxas (Vintage Motor Group)
  • Cover feature on Collector Automobile Magazine (December 1994)
  • Featured in Visioneer (Book written by Peter Grist)


~180 horsepower, 331 cu. in. OHV Hemi V-8 engine, two-speed PowerFlite automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 125.5 in.

Vehicle information?

Chassis no.: 7232631
Engine no.: C53-8-35701


Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Estimate: $700,000 – $900,000 Usd.
Price realized: TBD; Auction on December 10

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