Carrozzeria Ghia History
The Carrozzeria Ghia SpA is an Italian design bureau specializing in the design of design studies and prototypes of motor vehicles. Until the 1960s in Ghia also made complete car bodies in small series, which were occasionally distributed under its own brand name.
The Carrozzeria Ghia in 1916 of Giacinto Ghia in Turin founded. Ghia led the company until his death in 1944. In the same year, Mario Felice Boano and Giorgio Alberti took over the majority stake. At the time, Luigi Segre was Ghia's chief designer and designer. He advocated and accelerated Ghia's focus on American corporations, while Boano wanted to establish Carrozzeria primarily as a supplier and service provider to the Italian automotive industry. Since the disagreements over the future Ghia could not settle, Boano left the company in 1953 and founded with the Carrozzeria Boano its own body studio. Later he worked for Fiat's own Centro styles. Segre then completely took over the Carrozzeria Ghia and remained its owner until his death in 1963.In the 1920s, the Carrozzeria Ghia made a name for itself as a body of extravagant vehicles, whose chassis came from Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia. In the 1920s, numerous light-metal bodies were created, which were also used by customers in automobile sporting events such as the Mille Miglia.
Famous designers of the Carrozzeria Ghia were Mario Felice Boano, Luigi Segre, Giovanni Savonuzzi, Pietro Frua, Giorgetto Giugiaro and Tom Tjaarda.
After the Second World War, Ghia sought the US large-scale manufacturers as a target group, as the Italian market for costly studies was initially not receptive enough. From 1950 resulted, mediated by the designer Virgil Exner, a business relationship with the Chrysler Group, which had until the 1960s in inventory. Ghia made numerous exhibition vehicles for Chrysler. From some of them developed small series models, which were manufactured at Ghia and partially sold under its own name.
After Ghia had maintained close relationships with Chrysler for several years, the company has been part of the Ford Group since 1970, here the first series of the compact car Fiesta let design. For many years, Ford used the name Ghia as a name for particularly high-quality equipment variants of its large-scale models.
In the early to mid-1950s, those Italian coachbuilders experienced a rapid boom, financially and organisationally able to build larger manufacturing facilities to make the switch from crafting one-off production to small-scale industrial production. Ghia's competitors Bertone and Pininfarina had already moved into new large factories in the outskirts of Turin and benefited from Alfa Romeo and Fiat manufacturing contracts. Under the leadership of Segre, Ghia now also tried to expand production capacity gradually.
In 1954 Ghia acquired the rival Turin company Carrozzeria Stabilimenti Monviso. The acquisition also included Societa Apparecchi OS, a supplier to the automotive industry and a manufacturer of stationary engines. As a result, Ghia moved its headquarters from Via Tommaso Grosso to the larger Monviso buildings on Corso Unione Sovietica, 75. It soon became apparent that production capacity could not be sufficiently extended with this step. Segre therefore decided to build new, much larger production halls on the outskirts of Turin on the Via Agostini da Montefeltro, 5, which served from 1957 to the company's end as the company headquarters.
The first show car Ghia made for Chrysler was the 1950 Plymouth XX500, a Boano-designed pontoon- style hatchback. Ghia was at that time competing with Pininfarina, who also sought a relationship with Chrysler. Chrysler preferred Ghia, because their work was far cheaper. Until 1959, many other concept cars of all brands of the Chrysler Group joined, with Ghia often took up the designs Exner and refined in detail. The most famous Dream Cars of that era which owned Chrysler Norseman, the Chrysler Plainsman and the Plymouth Explorer (1953), who anticipated in profile and in various details, the lines of the 1955 mass-produced Karmann Ghia An outstanding creation was the Ghia Gilda from 1955, the name of the eponymous film with Rita Hayworth recalled. The Gilda was a developed in the Turin wind tunnel wedge-shaped coupe with pop-up headlights and high tail fins, which designed Giovanni Savonuzzi in the Chrysler order, but without the participation of Exner. Conceptually designed to accommodate a gas turbine, the Gilda was actually using an OSCA Four-cylinder engine equipped. Stylistically, he anticipated the development of tail fins in the late 1950s.
From some of these cars, Ghia made small series that were sold to European and American customers. This was, among other things for the Chrysler Ghia Special GS-1 from 1954, of which 400 copies were sold through the Société France Motors.
The connection to Chrysler existed until the 1960s. During this time, Ghia regularly produced the Crown Imperial Limousine, a second-generation representation vehicle from Chrysler's flagship Imperial brand. A total of 132 limousines on extended wheelbase. After the expiry of the contract sold to Chrysler Ghia the tools of the Spanish company Barreiro’s, which continued production of long Chrysler sedans with Ghia know-how for two years.
In parallel, it came under the leadership Segres to a collaboration with Pietro Frua. In the summer of 1957, Ghia took over the Carrozzeria Pietro Frua. Ghia wanted to use the established name Frua for individual creations that were not compatible with the previous profile of the brand Ghia. The business also included Pietro appointment as Ghia's design director. Under Fruas Aegis was Ghia, among other things, the design for the body of the Renault Floride. About the authorship of the design arose between Luigi Segre and Pietro Frua disputes that have led to Frua the Carrozzeria Ghia left again and in Turin with the Studio Tecnico Pietro Frua again made independently.
In the late 1950s, there was a need for even greater production capacity, and in front of the Ghia property, on Via Agostino da Montefeltro, 10-12-14, there was an old abandoned ammunition factory. Segre saw the opportunity to increase the bodywork there to five-digit quantities per year. However, at that time, Ghia did not have sufficient resources to build such a factory on its own. Thus, in 1960, the company Officine Stampaggi Industriali (OSI) SpA was founded , in which Ghia in person of Luigi Segre and the industrialist Arrigo Olivetti through one of its companies, the automotive supplier and rim manufacturer Fergat SpA, each half involved. The Ghia subsidiary Societa Apparecchi OS was converted to OSI for this purpose.
In addition to the production of ever larger quantities of production vehicles, Ghia continued to employ its own vehicle designers and worked with well-known external designers to regularly present sensational individual pieces at the major automobile fairs. For this purpose, the company also maintained its own prototype department. For capacity reasons, however, individual orders were always awarded to smaller, independent, craft-style companies, as exemplified by the prototype workshop of the Basano brothers; The Carrozzeria Sibona-Basano was built in 1962, when Ghia employee Pietro Sibona joined forces with the Basano brothers.
A major blow in the history of Ghia was the death of Luigi Segre in February 1963 at the age of 44. He died in connection with an appendectomy, which he had undergone immediately after his return from a professional stay in the United States. As a result, Olivetti took over Fergat the Ghia / Segre share of OSI and Ghia under new leadership focused on the former core areas of automotive design and the construction of automotive individual pieces and smaller series.
Against this background, the period between 1963 and 1966 for Ghia was restless. In 1966, ex-General Ramfis Trujillo finally acquired the company. He was the eldest and adopted son of the 1961-murdered dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo and was his former military ruler in Spanish exile. He was a son of Rafael Trujillo from his third marriage. As early as 1967, the Carozzeria was again for sale. New owner was the Argentine entrepreneur Alejandro de Tomaso, who had been producing racing and sports cars in Italy since the late 1950s with De Tomaso and the Scuderia De Tomaso. De Tomaso was also unable to operate Ghia profitably. 1970, de Tomaso sold the Carrozzeria to the US Ford Group, which has since been the owner of the company and the trademark rights.
As a direct result of the work for Chrysler, a relationship with the US truck manufacturer Dual Motors was established. Dual had acquired the rights in 1954 on the designed and Virgil Exner Ghia Dream Car Dodge Fire arrow IV and let the model with small modifications using Dodge technology at Ghia in series manufacture. By 1958, 102 convertibles and two coupes of the dual-Ghia called vehicle. It became known beyond the USA by Billy Wilder's feature film Kiss Me, Fool, in which it is assigned to lead actor Dean Martin; The car used in the movie was Martin's private car. A second, similar designed series called 6.4L was built with modified body from 1961 to 1963 also at Ghia. Of this series only 26 vehicles were created.
Eugene "Gene" Casaroll, the owner of Dual Motors and initiator of the Dual Ghia, later sought the revival of the Duesenberg brand. A designed for this purpose by Virgil Exner prototype Duesenberg Model D was also built in 1965 at Ghia.
Parallel to the projects with Chrysler Ghia developed since the late 1950s regularly sporty or luxurious vehicles with Fiat technology, which were often manufactured in small series and partly marketed under Ghia's own name. One of the first models Fiat based on was the Fiat 1500 GT (later Ghia 1500 GT, in the United States: Crimean Ghia), one as a "baby Ferrari" designated sports car with a hatchback body with the technique of Fiat in 1500 and a tuned four-cylinder engine at Abarth, of which between 1962 and 1966 about 300 copies were made.
In addition, Ghia also designed special versions of the larger Fiat 2300. These included especially the 2300 coupe with notchback - the "Ferrari of the little man" which bore the brand name Fiat and was regularly distributed through Fiat dealerships. The production of this model, of which a total of more than 3,500 copies originated, was made for capacity reasons not at Ghia, but at the competitor OSI, whose production facilities were designed for larger quantities. Other special versions were the hatchback coupe 2300 club with a large, top-hinged tailgate and the Cabriolet S 2300, each of which was manufactured in small lots at Ghia, in only four copies Ghia finally made the marketed under its own brand Ghia 230 S, whose entirely independent body had no relation to the factory 2300 had.
In December 1965 Giorgetto Giugiaro, who had previously worked for Bertone, became Ghia's chief designer. Within a short time, Giugiaro developed studies for Volkswagen and Isuzu, later also the mass-produced sports coupe Isuzu 117. For De Tomaso he designed the prototype Pampero - an open version of the Vallelunga - and the Mangistau, De Tomaso's first mid-engine sports car with American engine. Giugiaro's most eye-catching work for Ghia, however, was the design of the Maserati Ghibli realized in just three months. The Ghibli, which was based on a study that Ghia already in 1964 on the Turin Motor Show, was widely praised at the 1966 presentation and still applies 50 years after its debut as one of the finest sports cars. Giugiaro still considers the Ghibli to be his most beautiful creation. Giugiaro left Ghia after disagreements with the new owner Alejandro De Tomaso, and shortly thereafter founded his own design studio Ital Design. His successor at Ghia was the American Tom Tjaarda.
Alejandro de Tomaso had taken over the fortunes of the company in 1968. He was assisted by Rowan Industries, a US oil producer based in New Jersey. During this phase, among others, the De Tomaso Pantera was born.
Chrysler had dissolved in 1965 the lucrative contract for the construction of the Crown Imperial sedans, because the group allegedly wanted to withdraw from this market segment. Stageway coaches jumped into the breach in Fort Smith (Arkansas), where such vehicles were built until 1971 and in cooperation with Chrysler that made the Imperial Crown for mobile office and contained many elements of the Imperial Ghia. The request from Rowan Industries regarding the construction of a chauffeured limousine on Checker Marathon-Basis should have been the angry de Tomaso against this background so been lying. Rowan was planning an expansion into the limousine business and wanted to explore the possibilities. At Ghia Tjaarda and Giugiaro were commissioned with the project. It was designed to compete with the Cadillac Series 75 and Lehmann-Peterson's built-in stretch versions of the Lincoln Continental. The vehicle was called Ghia Centurion and presented a modern interpretation of the chauffeured limousine. Traditionally, was the division of the interior with cutting disc, leather seats for the driver and high-quality fabric covers for the passengers. The motor journalist David Burgess-Wise commented to the vehicle that it was designed for hat wearers and Car and Driver even saw the mafia as a potential clientele. The vehicle itself was drawn cautious and has especially in the front similarities with the Fiat 130 on. Ghia showed the Centurion for the first time at the Paris Motor Show in 1968 and at the NAIAS 1969; a single source also calls the NAIAS 1968.Rowan Industries did not pursue the idea further and Morris Markin of Checker Motors was not interested. So, it remained with this unique piece that still exists.
After De Tomaso had sold its shares in 1970, "Ghia" was integrated together with the acquired in the same year Carrozzeria Vignale in the Ford Group. Chief designer was until 1977 Tom Tjaarda, which was perceived in the automotive world partly with amusement. It has been criticized that the American Ford Group has spent a lot of money on two exotic styling companies, only to be led by a Detroit-born designer. Tjaarda-designed, first some more model for De Tomaso, including the Jaguar XJ ajar Limousine Deauville, which was manufactured in small series until 1988, and the concept vehicles Mustela and Pantera 4. Ghia's most successful project in the Ford era was the concept of the Ford Fiesta, whose design Tjaarda significantly influenced. From the 1980s, Ford had at Ghia numerous studies designed for the mother brand, but also for other companies belonging to the group. Among them was the Ghia Seatta, an open vehicle based on the Ford Ka. Also, for the British sports car manufacturer AC originated at Ghia concept vehicles.
In addition, Ford used the name Ghia from the 1970s to about 2010 in almost all markets as a name for particularly high-quality equipment versions of its production models.