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by Jay Traugott
Dean Martin certainly had a good taste in cars, hiring Hollywood customizer George Barris to further modify his Ghia L6.4.
He was cool, funny and had mob ties. In addition to his comedy and singing careers during his days with Jerry Lewis and later "The Rat Pack", Dean Martin also had great taste in cars. He owned many throughout his life and now one of them is up for sale. This 1962 Ghia L6.4 coupe was customized especially for Martin by legendary Hollywood custom car builder George Barris. But before we get into more of its details, it's important to understand the history of the Ghia brand.
Ghia was first established way back in 1915 in Turin, Italy, and it eventually went on to become one of the world's leading coachbuilding firms. At first, Ghia created lightweight car bodies made from aluminum for brands like Alfa Romeo, which went on to win the Mille Miglia in 1929. Before World War II, Ghia continued to grow its car body business and clients included not just Alfa Romeo but also Fiat and Lancia. As was the case with many things in Europe during the war, the Ghia factory was completely destroyed by an Allied bombing raid in 1943. It was later rebuilt after the war.
It was during this time that Ghia returned to coachbuilding with clients including Ford, Volkswagen and Volvo. When Virgil Exner was designing cars at Chrysler, the two companies began working together for 15 years. Their combined creations included the Chrysler Ghia Specials, the K-310 and the Crown Imperial limousines, to name just a few. But it was the L6.4 that's easily become the marque's most famous creation. Based on a series of Chrysler concept cars from the fifties, the L6.4 had the longest production line in the world, which stretched from Detroit to Milan and back again, due to its American drivetrain and Italian coachwork.
Developed in conjunction with Dual Motors chief engineer Paul Farago, the L6.4 was powered by a Chrysler 383 cu in (6.3 liters) V8 with 335 horsepower and mated to Chrysler's three-speed automatic. Farago also designed a Chrysler-based chassis for it. It had its debut at the Paris Motor Show and was immediately applauded for its stunning design. Along with that exterior, it also featured a Nardi wood steering wheel and Jaeger gauges. All of this Italian coachbuild goodness came at a price, however. In 1963, the L6.4 cost over $15,000. By the time production ceased that same year, a total of 25 Ghia L6.4s had been built.
Now, back to Dean's car. The famous singer actually didn't think the car was exclusive enough, so he gave Barris a call. This car was finished in black and features a glass greenhouse and Barris trademark oval headlights. It also has chrome wire wheels with narrow whitewall tires highlighted by thin chrome accents around the wheel wells. The black leather interior is all original, as is everything else about the car. The seller claims it's never been restored. The asking price is $199,500 and has just 47,259 miles on the odometer. This Ghia L6.4 definitely isn't cheap but it's a true piece of automotive and entertainment history. Photos courtesy of hlcc.