Ferrari by Ghia
June 6, 2002
By Marcel Massini
Early Ghias were often described as "pesante", meaning ungainly. This is S/N 0185 EL, a four passenger berlina currently owned by David Letterman. There were four built with this body style. They all still exist with their original bodies.
After World War Two Giacinto Ghia was a broken man because the Allied bombers had hit the Ghia works and nothing had remained. He returned to Torino to supervise the reconstruction of the factory but suddenly died on 21 February 1944. He was only 56 years old. Ghia's widow wanted to continue the name Ghia and offered what was left of the company to two of Giacinto's best friends, Giorgio Alberti and Mario Felice Boano. The latter took control as he was offered the position of director and soon re-established Carrozzeria Ghia at Via Tommaso Grossi in Torino. Four years later the company moved to new premises at Corso Unione Sovietica.
In 1950 Carrozzeria Ghia began the production of Ferrari Coupé bodies in small numbers with emphasis on luxury. Giacinto Ghia's original directives remained unchanged: limited luxury production and the insistence on quality over quantity. The 30-year old Luigi Segre was hired to handle the newly established Chrysler of America connection. He quickly became managing director of Ghia and concentrated his efforts on Gran Turismo coachwork but never produced any racing or sports-racing bodies for Ferrari. In 1953 Mario Boano left Ghia to open up his own carrozzeria together with his son Giampaolo. At that time Ghia moved their facilities to a new location on via Agostino da Montefeltro just within a few miles from their old building. From this time the Ghia bodied Ferraris were strongly influenced by some of the Chrysler dream cars which the firm was also building as prototypes for the U.S. manufacturer.
In the late 1940s Mr. Philippi of Aigle, Switzerland, owner of an automobile repair shop, visited Carrozzeria Ghia in Torino. He asked to use the name Ghia for his own coach-building business. The men in Torino agreed, sold him a license and hence Philippi's Ghia-Aigle coachworks were born. The French word Aigle means Eagle in English and that's why an eagle is shown on the Ghia-Aigle badge. In 1951 Ghia-Aigle bodied two Ferrari type 195 and 212 (chassis numbers 0137 E and 0195 EL).
Ghia's efforts on the 166/195 Inters were more pleasing, and relatively popular. Ten similar berlinetta bodies were constructed on the 195 chassis. S/N 0129 S is a 195 Inter as owned by Nick Soprano.
The original Ghia-bodied Ferraris were of restrained, sedate and sometimes even ugly character. In most cases they carried overly large and complicated grillework. There were three basic body styles during the first two years of production while Mario Boano was head of Ghia styling: A berlinetta in different variations, a slightly taller berlina (four passenger sedan) and a cabriolet.
This is S/N 0145 E , a 212 Inter, as owned by David and Susanna Nelson and displayed at Cavallino 2001. These are commonly known as 2+2 berlinas, and sometimes confused with the four passenger berlinas.
If not always beautiful, Ghias were well built with luxurious interiors, as exemplified by the Letterman car. Restorations shops have commented that Ghia body construction was also superior to other Italian coachbuilders.
The first car to be built was a 166 Inter berlinetta, serial number 0049 S. The car was constructed and delivered in 1950 through official dealer Inico Bernabei in Rome. It appears that the first owner was a Signore Jazzetta of Naples, Italy. In the years following Ghia built a minimum of 25 of these berlinettas in different variations. Current records indicate that 10 were constructed on the 195 Inter chassis. Eight berlinettas were based on the 212 Inter and received a simpler but heavier looking hood. For the 4.1-liter engined 340 America chassis the design had to be stretched and the rear fender forms were moved forward far into the door to balance the longer front fenders. Five of these 340 America berlinettas are on record today. The berlinas were constructed on the 212 Inter and the 340 America chassis. The berlina was nicely detailed and although offering seating for four, it lacked the appeal of the two-passenger berlinetta. The cabriolet was a direct derivative of the berlinetta. The basic shape was pleasing, but some of the detailing was excessive. No more than two cabriolets were built. A beautiful variation of Boano's berlinetta shape was constructed on a 212 Inter chassis (0213 EL). This car was a notch back coupé with the roof painted in a contrasting color.
The 410 Superamerica and the 375 MM were the last Ghia-bodied Ferraris. Both were commissioned by Robert Wilke of Wisconsin and chassis 0473 SA adapted the tailfin of Ghia's spectacular Gilda and Dart prototypes. The overall shape was very dramatic and eccentric but certainly not very fitting for a Ferrari frame.
This almost attractive Ghia bodied Ferrari, S/N 0191EL, as seen here at Cavallino 2001, was rebodied by Ghia in 1952. The original body was one of two cabriolets made by Ghia. The car was sold to Juan Peron in 1953.
Although Ghia-bodied Ferraris were not very sporty looking a few were seriously raced. Probably the best known example in competition was Antonio Parravano's 340 America Coupé Ghia with chassis 0150 A. It was raced in the November 1952 Carrera Panameri-cana in Mexico by Jack and Ernie McAfee. They placed a creditable 5th OA in the grueling South American long distance race. In the mid-1950s a number of English amateur drivers entered Ghia-bodied Ferraris in local races (chassis #0130 AL and 0153 EL). In Maroc Leonce Beysson raced a 212 Inter Berlina with Ghia body (probably chassis #0193 EL) and won the Circuit des Stades race at Casablanca. In the 1956 Ferrari Yearbook a nice photograph of this event can be found. In the early 1950s Dutch Ferrarista Eddie Hertz-berger raced chassis #0225 EL, a 212 Inter Coupé Ghia, regularly at the Zandvoort circuit.
S/N 0473, a 410 SA, was built for Robert Wilkes of Wisconson, and based on the "Gilda" and "Dart" concept cars. Certainly not what Enzo may have had in mind. The name Gilda was taken from a popular movie of the era starring Rita Hayworth.
During the late Sixties and early Seventies Ghia produced some very successful bodies for another Modenese firm, the Maserati Ghibli. Ghia then continued to build show cars and prototypes. In 1964 Luigi Segre's widow, Contessa Luisa, had sold 75 percent of Ghia to Leonidas Ramades Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. In 1967 Alejandro De Tomaso, with backing from Rowan Controller, an US corporation run by his brother-in-law, acquired control of Ghia. Ford Motor Company purchased 84 percent of Ghia from Rowan Industries in 1970. Three years later they purchased the remaining 16 percent. While Ford in 2001 opened a new design centre in London, Carrozzeria Ghia in Torino is now about to be closed almost completely. According to latest press news the number of employees has been reduced from 48 to only 3 people in Italy. In the future Ghia will only be a small virtual design studio, which basically means the end of one of the big and traditional names in Italian coachbuilding. There will be never again another Ghia-bodied Ferrari.
FERRARIS ORIGINALLY BODIED BY CARROZZERIA GHIA
|#||S/N||TYPE||Delivered through dealer||First Owner||NOTES|
|1||0049 S||166 Inter Coupé||Inigo Bernabei, Rome/Italy||Jazzetta, Naples/Italy||Renumbered 0070 M, Barchetta Touring Replica|
|2||0087 S||195 Inter Coupé|| ||Angelo Biemmi, Iseo/Italy|| |
|3||0089 S||195 Inter Coupé||Compt. Autom. Richard, Brussels/B||Léon Sven, Brussels/B||Shown Brussels 1951|
|4||0093 S||195 Inter Coupé||AICAR*, Milan/Italy||Panchetti, Caracas/VEN|| |
|5||0101 S||195 Inter Coupé 2+2||AICAR*, Milan/Italy||Lenzi, Pistoia/Italy|| |
|6||0105 S||195 Inter Coupé||WI.PU.CO. Srl., Milan/Italy||Raymond Styvan, NY/USA|| |
|7||0109 S||195 Inter Coupé 2+2||WI.PU.CO. Srl., Milan/Italy||Portafiguesi, Genova/Italy|| |
|8||0113 S||195 Inter Coupé 2+2||WI.PU.CO. Srl., Milan/Italy||Schué, Milan/Italy|| |
|9||0121 S||195 Inter Coupé 2+2||WI.PU.CO. Srl., Milan/Italy||Romeo Caggini, Milan/Italy|| |
|10||0129 S||195 Inter Coupé|| ||Luigi Villoresi, Milan/Italy|| |
|11||0130 AL||340 America Berlina 4 p||Brooklands Motors, London/UK||David Brown, London/UK||Raced in England mid-50s|
|12||0133 S||195 Inter Coupé 2+2|| ||Elisa Marelli, Milan/Italy|| |
|13||0142 A||340 America Coupé||Luigi Chinetti Motors, NY/NY/USA||John Perona, NY/USA|| |
|14||0144 A||340 America Coupé|| ||Adriano Marzoni, Rome/Italy|| |
|15||0145 E||212 Inter Coupé||Franco Cornacchia, Milan/Italy||Franco Macchi, Milan/Italy||Front modified, today with 212 Inter motor #0249 EU|
|16||0148 A||340 America Coupé||Directly through Maranello||Michel Paul-Cavallier, Pont-à-Mousson/F|| |
|17||0149 E||212 Inter Coupé||Brooklands Motors, London/UK||Francis Motors, Leicester/UK||Now with 250 GT motor #0433 GT restamped 0149 E|
|18||0150 A||340 America Coupé|| ||Antonio Parravano, Inglewood/CA/USA||Raced by McAfee at the Carrera Panamericana 1952|
|19||0153 EL||212 Inter Berlina||Brooklands Motors, London/UK||A. M. H. Bryde, London/England||Raced by Graham 1956, now with engine #0165 EL|
|20||0155 EL||212 Inter Coupé||Brooklands Motors, London/UK||John Morton Entwistle, Hoylake/UK|| |
|21||0169 E||212 Inter Coupé||Ponti e Mambretti, Rome/Italy||Antonio Mambretti, Rome/Italy|| |
|22||0183 EL||212 Inter Coupé 2+2||Joao A. Gaspar, Oporto/P||Nicolas Franco, Madrid/E||Rebodied into Barchetta Touring Replica|
|23||0185 EL||212 Inter Coupé 2+2|| ||Robert Braunschweig, La Chaux-de-Fonds/CH|| |
|24||0189 EL||212 Inter Coupé 2+2||Karl Forster, Zürich/CH||Adolf Schumann, San Francisco/CA/USA||King Farouk, Egypt|
|25||0191 EL||212 Inter Cabriolet||Directly through Maranello||Editoriale Domus, Milan/Italy||Juan Péron, Argentina, became Coupé Ghia|
|26||0193 EL||212 Inter Berlina 4 p||Soc. Cogemati, Casablanca/MAR||R. Y. Joseph, Rabat/Maroc||Raced by Beysson in Maroc 1956, engine in 0215 EL|
|27||0199 EL||212 Inter Berlina 4 p|| ||Giuseppe Santi, Rome/Italy|| |
|28||0201 EL||212 Inter Coupé||Karl Forster, Zürich/CH|| || |
|29||0205 EL||212 Inter Coupé|| ||Luigi Rovere, Rome/Italy|| |
|30||0213 EL||212 Inter Coupé||Villani e Fassio, Genova/Italy||Umberto Miserini, Varese/Italy|| |
|31||0225 EL||212 Inter Coupé||Johanna Maasland, Voorburg/NL||Eddie Hertzberger, Holland||Raced by Hertzberger in Holland 1952/1953|
|32||0233 EL||212 Inter Cabriolet|| ||In France||Shown Torino 1952|
|33||0473 SA||410 SA Coupé||Luigi Chinetti Motors, NY/NY/USA||Robert Wilke, Milwaukee/WI/USA|| |
|34||0476 AM||375 MM Coupé||Luigi Chinetti Motors, NY/NY/USA||Robert Wilke, Milwaukee/WI/USA|| |
*AICAR = Agenzia Internazionale Commercio Auto Ricambi, later became WI.PU.CO. Srl.
NOT listed: Ghia-Aigle bodied Ferraris 0137 E and 0195 EL