In the 1960s, a few of the remaining custom coach builders continued to demonstrate their ideas and skill with a number of one-off concepts, using a production-based chassis on the speculation that they could sell the design. These cars were displayed at the major auto shows in Turin, Geneva and Paris, hoping to attract lucrative commissions from a manufacturers, as well as sales from the wealthiest private clients. Ghia displayed the Fiat G230S Coupe, based on Fiat's 2100 sedan chassis at the 1960 Turin show.
Burt Sugarman working as a salesman at a Beverly Hills Import car dealership, owned by Johnny Carson and some other heavy weight producers (before Burt himself became a major producer) saw the Ghia-bodied Fiat G230S Coupe on the cover of the latest Road & Track and was so enthralled with the modern lines by the then young designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. He contacted Ghia in Turin. Sugarman convince Ghia to build a limited-production convertible based on the Fiat design. Sugarman wanted a car with American mechanicals with a powerful V8 engine. The complete drive-train of the Plymouth Barracuda Formula S was chosen. He then formed a new company, Ghia of America. This resulted in the 450 SS and the car was branded as a Ghia. Only 52 cars were built. This is one of the alleged surviving 26.
Driving the Ghia 450SS.
I first drove one in 1972, I too had loved its looks, although at this point and time designs were moving in the short trunk long nose direction. You can not argue with the room and comfort provided by this car in comparison to some of its other contemporaries. There was secure feeling knowing that mechanical parts could be found at every gas station in North America. Mechanical parts for some exotics in those days could cripple the car for months. That out of the way I shrugged it of my list due to the automatic transmission. The great sound from the engine was not backed up by great acceleration. It was not what I expected of an Italian built car. I reminded my self it is a Barracuda in a real nice Italian suit. I can appreciated now much more than my speed crazed 20 year old version.