This Dual-Ghia L6.4 is the prototype for the second series of Dual Ghias. Production of the L6.4 was quite limited - only 25 were built.
The first Dual Ghias were built in 1957-58 and quickly became the 'cars of the stars.' Among the owners were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Lucille Ball, Hoagy Carmichael and Eddie Fisher. A movie columnist stated that the Rolls-Royce had become 'a status symbol for those who can't get a Dual Ghia.'
When this car was completed (in Italy) Paul Farago, the designer, contacted Sinatra, who had prompted Farago to create a new version, to tell him the new version was low and sleek. Sinatra reminded Fargo that he 'and my friend, Dino, like to wear our hats in the car.' So - the roofline was raised 1½ inches on the rest of the cars.
The Dual Ghia's L6.4's engine is a Chrysler 383 cubic-inch (6.4 liter) V-8 that offers 335 horsepower. Since the car featured a Chrysler drive train it could be serviced at any Chrysler dealer.
Sold for $412,500 at 2015 RM Auctions
Eugene Casaroll, with some Chrysler cooperation, opened Dual Motors in Detroit in 1956 to build a gimmick-less 'Italian American car' to appeal to the Rat Packs on both coasts. Richard Nixon, Ronald Regan, Lyndon Johnson, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin all bought the Ghia-built-body-on-a-Dodge-frame car, the design based on that of Virgil Exner's Firearrow show car. The early Dual-Ghias were relatively light and most of the 117 cars produced went rapidly because of the 315 cubic-inch Dodge Hemi short-stroke V8 under the hood.
Limited production models in a niche market have always been a difficult arena, and Eugene Casaroll certainly fought the good fight. He had taken a Chrysler concept car and developed it into a limited-production convertible, complete with MoPar mechanicals and hand-built Ghia coachwork. It was successfully produced in only three short years since its 1956 introduction, and was popular with many influential individuals of that era. The success, however, was short lived, and by 1958, Casaroll was ailing, and business for the shipping line had slowed.
Realizing a new model was needed, Vice President of Dual Motors Paul Farago and the designers at Ghia drew up a second-generation model, a 'two-plus-two' fastback coupe with lines refined by Chrysler's Virgil Exner. Ghia hand-built the body and the entire car, including the chassis, which was based on 1960 Chrysler suspension, and a 383 cubic-inch 'Wedge' V-8. Casaroll's Dual Motors involvement in the project continued to shrink, causing the new model to be known as the Ghia L 6.4, or '6.4 Liter', which is the metric displacement of its engine. The new car carried a price of $13,500 - a substantial figure for its era. The price along determined its exclusivity, but it also meant the buyer was getting one of the finest-finished automobiles in the world.
Sadly, the glorious existence of the L6.4 came to an end after just 26 examples (plus a prototype) were built. The high cost of the automobile and the equally steep cost and complications of producing the car in Italy and selling it in the United States brought it to a premature end.
This particular car is chassis number 0309 and was the ninth L6.4 built. It is believed that this car was originally sold in Switzerland. The current caretaker imported the Ghia in 2006, and then the car underwent a complete restoration. The body was finished in deep black, with an interior in black and white leather (changed from the original olive green). At some in its life, it was fitted with incorrect taillights, but they were replaced with correct taillights that had been reproduced from an original pair. An original-style fitted luggage set was reproduced to match the interior, and period-style wire wheels replaced the after-market wire wheels that were on the car when acquired.
This Ghia was selected as a finalist for Best in Show at the 2014 Concorso Italian. It was also Best in Class at the 2014 Concours on the Avenue in Carmel.
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
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