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1958 Dual Ghia 400 news, pictures, specifications, and information

Coupe
Coachwork: Ghia
 
Eugene A. Casaroll was an American-Italian businessman who set up Dual Motors during World War II to build generators and trucks for the military. He also ran Automobile shippers, Inc., Chrysler's main car transporter. Smitten with the Firearrow IV concept car designed by Virgil Exner for Chrysler, he approached Dodge Division general manager William Newburg for permission to build the car. He was given the rights and Dodge provided the chassis for the project. Bodies were made in Turin, Italy and shipped back to Detroit where they were mounted to the chassis. Power was supplied by a dodge Red Ram Hemi V-8.

The Hollywood elite included the Rat Pack of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Joey Bishop - all owned dual Ghias. The car remained in production between 1956 and 1963. About 100 were built at a pricey $7646 each. One journalist wrote, 'A Rolls-Royce is a Hollywood status symbol for those who can't get a Dual Ghia.'

This 1958 Dual Ghia 400 Prototype was the only example produced by Dual Motors, a Michigan based independent automobile manufacturer. Ghia, a coachbuilder based in Turin Italy, was commissioned to outfit the body of the car. It features a 400-hp 392 Chrysler 'hemi' V-8 powerplant and built on a 1957 Chrysler 300 chassis (unlike other Dual Ghias). It was based on a Gilda styling study. It is well equipped with air conditioning, Chrysler's hi-way hi-fi record player, and four bucket seats.

The car was purchased off the floor of the 1958 New York International Auto Show to Alex Freeman, who wouldn't take 'no' as an answer. He owned it until 1977 when it was sold to the current owners.

Interestingly, it was displayed again at the New York International Auto Show in 1977, where it continued to draw admirers.

The car remains in near 100% original condition - only the leather top, which had dried out, has been replaced.
Eugene Casaroll, proprietor of Automobile Shippers Incorporated, was the individual responsible for the creation of the Dual-Ghia. The design was inspired by Virgini Exner's Dodge Firearrow, later called the Firebomb, show car. When Chrysler decided not to produce the car, Casaroll purchased the original Firebomb show car. It was re-engineered for public sale by designer Paul Farago. The interior room was increased, as was the luggage space. The chassis was from Chrysler, which was sent to Turin, Italy to have Ghia create the coachwork. Ghia had created the original Firebomb body, thus were the perfect craftsman to create the production vehicle. When the bodies were assembled, they were shipped to Detroit where Dual Motors fitted the drive-train and interior trim. The first series were equipped with Chryslers D500 and D500-1 engines. The D500 displaced 315 cubic-inches and produced 230 horsepower. The D500-1 had a larger, 325 cubic-inch displacement and 260 horsepower.

Production of this series lasted from 1956 through 1958 with a total of 117 examples constructed. There were two convertibles and the rest were coupes. The cars were competitively price considering they cost less than a Cadillac Eldorado and the Lincoln Continental. Just like many new automotive upstarts, the Dual Motors Company lost money on every car.

The concept was later revived in 1961. This time it was produced entirely in Italy in hopes of reducing the cost and expenses. This series is commonly known as the L6.4 as they were powered by Chrysler's 383 cubic-inch (6.4-liter) V8 engine. The chassis was its own, as Chrysler now used a unitary construction method. The cars were offered in hardtop coupe form only. Casaroll doubled the price in hopes of turning a profit, or at least break even. Problems continued to escalate as overhead costs continued to soar. Production continued until 1963 with a total of 26 examples created.

By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
The Dual Ghia was inspired by the Chrysler Fire-Arrow prototype and went on sale in 1956. It had been introduced at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club in 1955. The body of the vehicle was built by carrozzeria Ghia, an Italian coachbuilder firm. Dual was a independent automaker based in Detroit Michigan. The name of the car, obviously, came from the forging of both companies name.

Powered by a 315 cubic-inch Dodge enter and featuring a Powerflite transmission, the vehicle cost a hefty $7600. It was produced in limited numbers with 117 examples being produced before Dual Motors went out of business. Around 32 examples exist in modern times.

It was America's first four passenger sports car and popular with American celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Richard Nixon, Desi Arnaz, Ronald Reagan, and Sterling Hayden. Reagan lost his car to Lyndon Johnson in a high-stakes poker game.

By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
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