1958 Dual-Ghia ConvertibleSOLD

RM Auctions - Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction - August 16-18

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Estimate: $250,000-$300,000 US

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $247,500

Specifications:
Model D500. 260 hp, 315 cu. in. Chrysler V8 engine with hemispherical combustion chambers, Chrysler Powerflite two-speed automatic transmission, front suspension via wishbones and independent coil springs and rear live axle and semi-elliptic springs, and four wheel servo-assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 115"

The Dual Ghia – like most such creations – was the vision of one man. His name was Eugene Casaroll, and he earned the money to pursue his dream in another, quite different business.

This first opportunity came when he realized that the standard practice for delivering new cars to a dealership was to each to send its salesmen to the factory to pick up their new cars and drive them back. Knowing that a good salesman ’ s talents were wasted delivering cars, he offered a contract delivery service, sending drivers to do the job, and return home by rail or bus.

Before long he came up with the idea of the car carrier. It was the right idea at the right time, and Casaroll ’ s business – Automobile Shippers – exploded. At its peak he had more than 130 car carriers on the road delivering new cars from Detroit to dealerships across the nation. Later, when America went off to war, he modified his transporters to haul wartime equipment and machinery by building trucks with engines front and rear to handle the loads. The company he formed to manufacture his transports was Dual Motors. As successful as it was, the company ’ s legacy would be the result of another, quite different product.

After the war, Casaroll continued to build his business. In a seemingly unrelated development, in 1953 Chrysler commissioned the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia to build a number of show cars based on Virgil Exner's design for the Thomas Special. Included among these specials were four Dodge Fire Arrows. The cars created such a sensation when exhibited that the public began to clamor for a production version.

When Chrysler decided not to build such a car, Casaroll secured the rights to build a car based on this unique concept car design. Dual Motors – based in Michigan - shipped modified Dodge chassis to Italy, where Ghia fitted the handmade bodies. After being returned to the company ’ s facility in Detroit, the cars were fitted with Dodge running gear.

Production ran from 1957 to 1958, with the original Fire Arrow styling only slightly modified for the initial production run. Casaroll ’ s partner, (and Ghia ’ s American representative) Paul Farago, enlarged the passenger and luggage space, and he had Ghia add a pair of subtle tail fins to update the design in line with the public ’ s fascination with aircraft inspired styling. Based on surviving cars, it is likely that 100 examples were built and sold.

After production of these first cars ended, two more prototypes were made, but they never entered production. Finally, in 1960, Casaroll unveiled the prototype of a dramatically new looking Dual Ghia, the 6.4. Distracted by his other businesses an health problems, Casaroll backed away from the project, and Farago took over. Following the prototype, production resumed, and 25 more cars were built and sold.

Perhaps the most important factor behind Casaroll ’ s success with the Dual Ghia was his marketing. From the beginning, the cars were targeted at the celebrity market, where high visibility owners would sell cars – to other celebrities as well as the general public.

And worthy it was. Priced at a hefty $7,646, it cost a full $1,000 more than a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible. Frank Sinatra and Rat Pack members Peter Lawford and Eddie Fisher bought one, as well as Glenn Ford and Desi Arnaz. Debbie Reynolds used her husband ’ s Dual Ghia as a backdrop for a publicity photo. Supply was limited, and Casaroll hand picked buyers, reportedly checking the Social Register – and ensuring exclusivity by refusing to deliver two cars to the same city. One social columnist reported that a Rolls-Royce was only for those who could not get a Dual Ghia.

With its powerful American engine, sexy styling, and extraordinary build quality, the Dual Ghia was unlike anything before or since. It was Casaroll ’ s intention to build and sell 150 cars per year – but his refusal to compromise on any detail of the car ’ s quality proved to be the company ’ s undoing. Even at the stratospheric prices at which they sold, it was reported that the company lost money with every car sold.

The Dual Ghia offered here is the 69th car of 117 built. Acquired by the vendor about five years ago, it has benefited from a comprehensive professional body off restoration by longtime Dual Ghia enthusiast Fred Kanter ’ s company, Kanter Concepts of Santa Ana, California. Much of the work was done by noted Dual Ghia restorer Mike Damon, completed just six months ago. As a result, this stunning example has never been shown and stands ready to compete – and win – on the concours field.

Work included a complete strip and repaint, a full mechanical and chassis restoration, and new top, interior, and carpets. Chrome trim and brightwork is show quality, and every detail was attended to from new wiring to rebuilt instruments. Fitted with the desirable D500 Red Ram Dodge hemi engine, it is consequently very quick. With its luxury appointments, power options, and exquisite restoration, driving no. 69 must certainly be the closest possible experience to traveling back in time to drive off in a new Dual Ghia – as one of Casaroll ’ s chosen few.

Addendum
Please note that the Serial No. is S169.

Reference Number 10081

as of 6/1/2007

Overview
Car 1958 Dual-Ghia Convertible
VIN S169 
Exterior / Interior Color      Black /      Beige 
Configuration Left Hand Drive (LHD) 
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