Carrozzeria Ghia SpA, established 1915 in Turin, is one of the most famous Italian automobile design and coachbuilding firms, established by Giacinto Ghia and Gariglio as Carrozzeria Ghia & Gariglio, located at 4 Corso Valentino in Turin. The company initially made lightweight aluminium-bodied cars, achieving fame with the Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 which won the Mille Miglia in 1929. Between the world wars, Ghia designed special bodies for Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia, one of the most famous being the Fiat 508 "Balilla" Sport Coupé in 1933. During the Second World War, however, the company survived by making carts for the Italian Army and by manufacturing bicycles.
In 1943 the factory was destroyed during an Allied bombing raid. The loss of his buildings and all of the tooling and designs built up over more than a quarter of a century was too much for Ghia, and, on 21 February 1944 he died from a heart attack while supervising the rebuilding of the Turin factory. Determined that the family name would continue, Santina Ghia offered what was left of her husband's company to two of his closest associates, Giorgio Alberti and Felice Mario Boano, the latter having been chosen as a successor by Ghia before his death.
With Luigi Segre on his side, Boano saw many foreign firms ordering Ghia designs, such as Ford, Volkswagen and Volvo. Chrysler and its designer Virgil Exner became a close partner for 15 years, resulting in eighteen Chrysler Ghia Specials (1951-53). There is also a number of Ghia-bodied Ferraris. Production by Ghia was always in very low numbers, giving the company's products great exclusivity.
In 1953, Boano left for Fiat, the factory moved to via Agostino da Montefeltro, and Luigi Segre took over. Ghia then bought Pietro Frua, appointing Frua as head of Ghia Design (1957-60). After Segres death (1963), Ghia was sold to Ramfis Trujillo (1966), who sold it to Alejandro de Tomaso (1967), who took over, but had difficulty in running Ghia profitably. In 1970, he sold his shares to the Ford Motor Company. During this transition period, Ghia had partial involvement in the De Tomaso Pantera. The famous name of Ghia has now been degraded to a model name addition for Ford's top-line models.
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