The 1958 Dual-Ghia Convertible represents one of the shining moments in American automotive history. Of the great concept cars designed by Virgil Exner, the Dual-Ghia may be the most exotic American built car to come out of Detroit in the classic 1950’s. The sterling example featured here has recently been listed for sale by Daniel Schmitt & Co from their St Louis, Missouri gallery. (Find it here on the Daniel Schmitt & Co website with dozens of high resolution photos.) It is the featured vehicle in this week’s Cars On Line newsletter.
Finished in stunning Midnight Blue with a gorgeous tan and blue leather interior, this 1958 Dual-Ghia Convertible has made numerous Concours d‘Elegance appearances, and took home an award at the coveted Pebble Beach show in 2010. It is one of only 30 known to exist and is without question one of the best examples available on the market today. Suffice it to say that this is an investment grade collector car which will grace any museum or high end collection.
An American businessman, Eugene Casaroll, who is credited as the inventor of the auto shipping business, had previous success in the automotive industry as his Dual Motors Corporation in Detroit, Michigan built military vehicles for use during WWII. His first production car was born out of his appreciation for the Virgil Exner designed and Carrozzeria-Ghia bodied Dodge Firebomb show car of 1955. After the Chrysler Group decided not to proceed with Firebomb production, Casaroll purchased the show car, and together with designer Paul Farago, scaled the design for large production.
Farago was able to increase both passenger compartment space and luggage space improving on Exner’s original design. He even added tail fins, a hot American trend for that era. The renamed Dual-Ghia was first put into production by Casaroll’s Dual Motors Corporation in 1956.
In a press release, Casaroll described his new car as “intended for the car lover and, I am proud to say, is built by men who can claim that title by right of their art.” Dual-Ghia production cars were based on the Dodge D-500 chassis. These were shipped to Carrozzeria-Ghia in Turin, Italy, where the wheelbase was shortened. The bodies were hand formed and crafted by Carrozzeria-Ghia craftsmen at a cost of over 200 man-hours per car. The interiors were done in English colony leather, literally putting this motorcar in a class of its own among production vehicles of its day.
Power for the Dual-Ghias came from the Dodge Red Ram Hemi V8. There was a 260 horsepower upgrade package optional. It was mated to a Torqueflite 2-speed automatic transmission. They say performance was effortless.
Casaroll’s 1958 Dual-Ghia Convertible combined the best of American innovation with the elite Italian craftsmanship. It was just simply in a class of its own. Despite this, the retail price of roughly $7,500 meant that it was only $200 more than a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Casaroll’s unwillingness to compromise quality for cost quickly caught up with the Dual Motors Corporation. 1958 would be the final year of production. It has been estimated that only 100 Dual-Ghia’s were produced. Today, only 30 are known to exist in running and driving condition.