Ghia creations of 1950s in Arizona Concours d’Elegance

Ghia creations of 1950s in Arizona Concours d’Elegance

Carrozzeria Ghia is one of Italy’s leading auto designers and coachbuilders, with a rich history of beautiful concepts and production cars.

The 1953 Cadillac Ghia show car was owned by actress Rita Hayworth | Petersen Museum

The 1953 Cadillac Ghia show car was owned by actress Rita Hayworth | Petersen Museum

Carrozzeria Ghia is one of Italy’s leading auto designers and coachbuilders, with a rich history of beautiful concepts and production cars from the company’s founding in 1915 to the present day.

The second annual Arizona Concours d’Elegance welcomes two of Ghia’s most-famous creations from the 1950s – a custom-bodied 1953 Cadillac once owned by Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth and the exquisite 1954 Plymouth Explorer dream car – as part of a special Cars of Carrozzeria Ghia concours class honoring the 100th anniversary of the Turin design house.

The two evocative Ghia automobiles will be shown during the Arizona Concours on January 11, 2015, along with more than 85 rare and exceptional automobiles displayed on the landscaped inner lawns of the historic Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix. Both Ghias are owned by the world-famous Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which entered them in the Arizona Concours to help celebrate Ghia’s centennial.

The 1953 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe by Ghia became one of the best-known cars of its day when it was presented as an extravagant gift to Rita Hayworth from the wealthiest man in the world, Prince Ali Khan, who was married to Hayworth at the time. The flamboyant coupe was one of two Cadillac concepts built by Ghia for the 1953 Paris Auto Salon, where Khan saw the car and arranged to purchase it for his wife.

 The 1954 Plymouth Explorer was a Ghia design for Chrysler | Petersen Museum


The Plymouth Explorer was a Ghia design for Chrysler | Petersen Museum

Despite the lavish gift, Hayworth and Khan were divorced later that year. But the celebrity connection remained intact for the Ghia-bodied coupe, henceforth known as the Rita Hayworth Cadillac.

The 1954 Plymouth Explorer by Ghia came about because of the Italian company’s relationship with Chrysler Motors, which resulted in a number of important designs and production cars. Chrysler’s then-newly named head of design, the acclaimed Virgil Exner, had turned to Ghia to help the Detroit automaker shed its image for stodgy automobiles. The Plymouth Explorer was one in a series of exotic dream cars that would become part of the automaker’s design language.

On a modified 114-inch Plymouth chassis, Ghia built a sleek, hand-sculpted coupe and painted it a striking green metallic with white horizontal spear accents and exhaust tips that exited from the taillight pods. Interior details include white leather upholstery, fitted luggage and concealed radio controls.

A number of other Ghia-designed automobiles will also appear in their own special class at the Arizona Concours d’Elegance, which once again serves as the startup and focal point for the famed Classic Car Week in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. The premier automotive event benefits Make-A-Wish® Arizona, the founding chapter of the national organization that grants wishes for children facing life-threatening medical conditions.

For more information about the Arizona Concours d’Elegance, including ticket sales, see www.ArizonaConcours.com.

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