On the banks of a lake flooded with sunlight, Enghien-les-Bains in June 1955, the massive Chrysler ST Special coupe with a distinctive front grille acts like a magnet for admiring spectators attending the Concours d'Elegance. A young woman strolls along, casually waving her hand fan before taking a seat in the beautiful Chrysler. An amazing car, unlike anything seen until then. But that's not surprising, since it is a true "show car" for the road.
Indeed, in line with those built for the U.S. on a design by Virgil Exner, Ghia produced a few special Chryslers between 1953 and 1955 that were very exclusive and very luxurious. In 1955, on the basis of the new New Yorker, Ghia built a final version of the Chrysler ST Special coupe, which borrowed the bumper, the headlamps and the instrument panel of the production car.
The overall design is based on the previous model that Ghia had designed. The interior was completely redesigned and even more luxurious, with tan Havana leather throughout and an Ivory dash. The 5.4-litre V8 developed 250bhp and was mated to a 2-speed automatic, with both steering and brakes powered. With a distinctive copper-coloured paint job matched to an Ivory roof, this beautiful car was a star at the Carrozzeria Ghia stand in the April 1955 edition of the Turin motor show. Very striking, it was purchased by Mr. Lacroix, the CEO of plastics company Gilac, and was registered in October 1955 in Paris. Since then the car changed hands three times before ending up in a Chrysler workshop in Puteaux (a suburb of Paris) in the late 1960s.
Abandoned, the car was found several years later and saved "in extremis" by an enthusiast. A real "barn find," the car was then sold in the early 1980s to a major collector by a Normandy dealer. The third owner acquired the car in 2001. It needed restoration but was quite complete. A restoration began then, but remained unfinished. The shell is made of sheet metal and requires retouching and finishing before painting. The original Chrysler mechanicals have been fully overhauled.
In 2012 the fourth owner bought the car and commissioned a full nut and bolt restoration by Wayne Davis. The finished product is what you see today. In all, Ghia produced about 40 of the Chrysler Specials between 1953 and 1955, and this is one of the most exclusive, the last of the series and in all likelihood unique. It was a true miracle that the car narrowly avoided a sad disappearance and it surely deserves to find a place in the most prestigious of Concours d'Elegances in the world.