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						Ghia 450 Ss

Barracuda-Based Exotic: 1967 Ghia 450/SS

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

Chrysler is rarely given enough credit for pioneering new technology and taking big designs risks, especially in the 1950s and ’60s. But what about supplying Barracuda mechanicals for use in a coachbuilt Italian exotic with a Ferrari-caliber price tag? Sounds bold right, and it was, but like many bold ideas, the Mopar-motivated Ghia 450/SS wasn’t a commercial success. Just 57 Ghia roadsters were built before the plug was pulled, and this 1967 model on BringaTrailer.com is a highly-optioned version in nicely restored condition.

Before there was ever a Ghia 450/SS, there was the Ghia G230S, which was built as a show car using 2.3-liter Fiat 2300-S mechanicals. That car caught the attention of a Hollywood gearhead named Burt Sugarman, who suggested the G230S should be built as a convertible instead, with something a bit more exciting under the hood than the Fiat 2.3-liter. Sugarman formed a new business entity by the name of Ghia of America, and started looking for partners to supply American mechanicals.

Sugarman turned to his friend John DeLorean with the idea that the car should use Pontiac parts, but DeLorean quickly shot the idea down, citing that GM brass had already proven themselves unreceptive to the notion. DeLorean instead suggested that he should meet with Bob Anderson, who was the head of Chrysler-Plymouth. The idea had legs too, seeing as Chrysler and Ghia had worked together since the early ’50s, and Ghia had built show cars for Chrysler during these years, in addition to specialty vehicles such as Crown Imperial limousines.

Anderson proved more than receptive, and helped facilitate the project by sending a 1965 Barracuda Formula S to Ghia to start the project, along with development executive Paul Farago to act as an engineering liaison. The plan called for ladder frame that would accommodate as many parts as possible from the 273 ci. Barracuda, on to which the coachbuilt steel Ghia body would be placed. Ghia would form the steel bodies using an old-school wooden buck, with the panels welded together and welded to the chassis. Its svelte styling was penned by Sergio Sartorelli with revisions by Giorgetto Guigiaro.

The finished car was based on a shorter 98-inch wheelbase and weighed right around 3,100 pounds. Power came in at around 235 hp from the 273 ci LA V8 engine, with a four-speed manual and 727 TorqueFlight automatic available. The ladder chassis would accommodate the Barracuda’s K-member and torsion-bar front suspension, in addition to its rear live axle, leaf spring and brakes all around. The model name was changed to the 450/SS to reflect the 273’s 4.5-liter displacement.

Production started in 1966, but mounting expenses pushed the car’s sales price far beyond the $8,000 target. The standard car would now start at nearly $12,000 before options, which meant it was competing with Ferraris and other exotics, and sales would be tough. Of the 100 or so cars planned, about 57 were built before the project ended, largely caused by De Tomaso’s purchase of Ghia.

It’s estimated that less than 40 examples of the Ghia 450/SS remain today, and this ’67 model on BringaTrailer.com is likely one of the most desirable out there. To start, it’s well optioned with a removable hardtop, and features Arctic-Kar air conditioning as well. It’s finished in Celeste Chiaro blue over black upholstery, and sports a dark brown convertible top as well. Fourteen-inch Borrani wire wheels are fit on all-four corners with 11.5-inch Kelsey-Hayes disc breaks up front, and drums in the rear. The interior and exterior of the car have been meticulously restored to original, which involved rust repair in the doors per the seller, and is hardly surprising for an old coachbuilt steel car.

The sale of the car is accompanied by extensive records from the last 10 years, along with original sales documents from Beverly Hills Ghia, a California black plate and a clear Kentucky title in the seller’s name. Really, the only part of this car that could be better is the engine, which is a replacement Chrysler LA-series 340. That engine’s in the same family as the original 273, and should offer a nice bump in performance as well, but a date-correct 273 might have brought higher bids. As would a four-speed car, but I wouldn’t advise swapping this one over.

See the Ghia 450/SS here on BringaTrailer.com, where the current high bid is $15,500 with seven days remaining in the sale.

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Ghia Mopar