The Imperial was shipped as a two door with a hardtop/convertible frame to Turin, Italy and carrozzeria Ghia. It was finished in a industrial gray-green which still appears on the inner fenders and the undercarriage of the car. This gray-green was a sealer coat. Additional parts like the rear air conditioning box, interior fitments (like door handles), the hardtop doors both the front and rear, hardtop B and C pillars, carpeting, and a thousand other detail pieces were included with the car. Also notice the LeBaron hubcaps on this two-door body shell further authenticating the photograph because no two doors were ever LeBarons.
We are lucky to have these amazing photographs from the Ghia factory. This first one depicts about the halfway point of the stretch. Unlike a modern limo, this vehicle was stretched in four different places, all with their own proportion and location.
The frame (often described as a convertible frame, however it also came on hardtop models) has been biased cut and fabricated pieces, which are slightly smaller than the original frame, but have an identical outward appearance have been slid inside the box member sections of the stock frame to extend it to the desired wheelbase. The bias cut (meaning on an angle) is intended to give greater strength by having more area to weld on and larger opening to spread the stresses over. The x-frame in the center was simply stretched from the center driveshaft loop back with similar if not identical pieces of “I” beam steel.
The previous photograph depicts the squared off door opening that has now been hacked away and will be replaced with a factory C pillar door opening. Also notice the fin termination in the quarter panel, just behind the cut. The 4-door cars terminated in the front of the rear door, the 2-door cars, as you can see, terminated in the quarter panel, whereas the Ghias terminated at the rear door handle.
Notice the door in the background, at this point of production the only reason to have a door nearby would be to serve as a template to either model the cut in the quarter panel or the placement of the B pillar. Also notice the gutted interior of the quarter panel ahead of the rear wheel well. This will be filled with Ghia specific reinforcements and a quarter window frame. The amount of work that it took to convert the two door hard top into a limousine was titanic and all the filler pieces that are missing were handmade. Take note of the bracing welded onto the A pillars (the windshield pillar) to keep the body from folding in on itself and the factory dash wrapped up tight with protective covering during the Ghia conversion process.
Further along in the process you see the B pillars from a factory hardtop car now installed. Also how the C pillars now incorporate the new fin termination now determined by cutting the quarter panel to accommodate the 4 inch longer rear door. The rear door has Ghia handmade outer skin on it, however they accomplished the door stretch by taking two factory made inner door boxes, sectioning them in approximately the same place but making one of them 4 inches longer. And then they applied the handmade outer skin to the stretched inner box. This necessitated a custom made piece of glass. Many of the interior door mechanisms had to be modified to accommodate not only the door stretch but also the Ghia only lockable rear door handles.
Also, the upper frame of the doors were cut away and the special limo door frames that cut into the roof were applied. Notice the body in the background. It has a removable jig applied to it and as you can see the cuts in the rear quarter panel are rough. Whereas in the foreground the body has both the C and B pillar installed.
Also notice the door that we saw in the previous picture is mounted to the right front pillar and is being used to locate the position of the B pillar and its door opening. You can also see the bias cut on the frame extension. The rockers have also been added on at this point in the process.
In the background to the left you see a car on jack stands. That is a Dual-Ghia which was being produced in the factory at the exact same time as these vehicles were being built.