By the 1960s, the world's few remaining custom coachbuilders continued to demonstrate their vision and skill with a number of one-off concepts based on production-based chassis at prestigious auto shows in Turin, Geneva and Paris, hoping to attract lucrative commissions from manufacturers, as well as sales from the wealthiest private clients. In this tradition, Ghia presented the Fiat G230S Coupe, based on Fiat's 2100 sedan chassis at the 1960 Turin show. Famed Hollywood producer Burt Sugarman spotted the Ghia-bodied Fiat G230S Coupe on the cover of the latest Road & Track and was so taken with the clean modern lines fashioned by legendary Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro that he contacted Ghia in Turin, Italy. In an amazing feat of persuasion, Mr. Sugarman managed to convince Ghia to create a limited-production convertible based on the design and he then formed a new company, Ghia of America. However, Sugarman envisioned the car complete with the compact yet powerful V8 engine and underpinnings of the Plymouth Barracuda Formula S. This resulted in the 450 SS and the car was branded as a Ghia, instead of Plymouth.
The exotic cars were each listed for over $11,000, a staggering sum comparable to the most expensive Ferraris, Maseratis and Rolls-Royce. By the end of production, only 52 of these beauties were completed, and all were sold through an exclusive Beverly Hills dealership. Many of the Ghia motorcars were originally owned by celebrities, including Johnny Carson, Wilt Chamberlain and, of course, Burt Sugarman.
Ghia's steel bodywork featured compound-curved panels with seamlessly integrated front and rear bumpers. Far from being a rebodied Barracuda, the 450 SS was based on a unique chassis formed by a pair of longitudinal tubular frame members, in combination with a very strong semi-monocoque body. Inside, the very stylish cockpit was equipped with supportive leather bucket seats, with the driver facing a clean, flat and functional dash containing a comprehensive array of instruments.
Only approximately 26 examples out of a total production run of 52 cars are believed to have survived.
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