Market Finds: When Celebrities Had Great Taste, They Ordered A Striking Ghia Coupé

When Celebrities Had Great Taste, They Ordered A Striking Ghia Coupé

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
December 2, 2015
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Photography courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Look at those… just look at those beautiful wheel arches. Now take in the whole design. Ready? No? Still gazing at those lovely arches? I get it, but let’s get to it.

Following the beloved Dual-Ghia’s footsteps, the L6.4 had big shoes to fill. Originally penned by Ghia designer Paul Farago, this clean slate coupe was then worked over by Chrysler’s very own Virgil Exner—a man who had a knack for special Ghias. Although the chassis and body were handled in-house, Ghia opted to fit Chrysler’s “wedge” V8, a 6.4-liter producing 335hp—hence the “L6.4” name. Because production was handled nearly entirely by Ghia, the L6.4 came with an astronomical $13,500 price tag (nearly $105,000 in today’s money).

In Ghia’s defense, the MSRP wasn’t irrationally inflated for the sake of being “premium,” the L6.4 was among the finest automobiles available in the early ’60s. 

Nevertheless, the price certainly didn’t stop Lucille Ball, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and a similar caliber of celebrity from returning to Ghia. The sheer logistics of selling a hyper-expensive, low volume coachbuilt coupe—manufactured in Italy for U.S. sale—coupled with illogical cost involved with handbuilt “manufacturing” killed the L6.4 sooner than Ghia originally planned. In total, only 26 were produced while just two found a home in South Africa—this being one of them.

Originally purchased by a South African businessman Mr. F. Hofman, records note local enthusiast Peter Grove purchased the car in 1990 before embarking on a restoration. Finished in a deep metallic maroon on tan leather upholstery, this L6.4 oozes Jetsons design in the best of ways. From there, an American imported the car before renowned collector Wayne Davis added it to his stable.

With Jet Age lines, a muscular 6.4-liter under hood, factory A/C and radio, enough hide for 2+2 opulence, and the exclusivity only a limited-run coachbuilt coupe can offer, is there a better vintage Hollywood GT? If it’s good enough for Sinatra, it ought to be good enough for you.

History

Specifications
~335 horsepower, 383 cu. in. Chrysler OHV “Wedge” V-8 engine with Carter four-barrel carburetor, three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, independent front suspension with torsion bar and tubular shock absorbers, solid rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and tubular shock absorbers, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,920 mm.

Vehicle information

Chassis no.: 0313

Valuation
Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Estimate: €250,000-€330,000 ($265,000-$350,000 Usd.)
Price realized: Auction on February 3

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