1960 CHRYSLER IMPERIAL GHIA LIMOUSINE
1960 was a one year only body style for Imperial. It was also one of the most flamboyant Imperials ever designed. A grinning grill, sparrow strainer tail lights, and the first application of electro-luminescent gauges, among other things, makes this my favorite year Imperial. Pseudo futuristic features such as the square steering wheel made it’s first appearance on this car. The dash gauges and their ornamentation have a distinct jet-age flavor that ties into many of the other styling excesses.
The Ghia limousine took exceptionally well to this body style. By 1960 they were shipping 4 door cars to Italy and converting them.
The limousine style back window came directly from Chrysler on its LeBaron models. Rear door trim panels from Ghia featured stretched construction but with reversed stock armrests converted to Ghia specifications.
The traditional Ghia badge made its first appearance on this year’s limousine.
Chrysler loaded every one of these cars up with equipment not common to previous year model Ghias such as: power locks, power vents (new for this year), Mirro-Matic rearview mirror, and cruise control. This was also the first year where the Ghias were not built on one of the original 1957 bodies and then updated for that current year model.
Along with the whole new body and a greater degree of factory engineering came a vastly improved frame. This is the first year that Ghia built the car of off the new Imperial 413 wedge head, not the Hemi. The photographs detail how different the 1960 is from previous Imperials.
The Ghia conversion details were nearly identical to previous year models with the exception of jump seat design, rear assist handle design, the addition of the Leece-Neville alternator system, and the fact a larger degree of the external trim was supplied by the factory. Ghia also eliminated the factory front eyebrow trim that came on 1960’s (above headlights on fender) and leaded over the holes. Interior door handles were also new for this year and on the rear ones because of their new location on the door they had to be cut at the head, repositioned, re-welded, and re-chromed.
Do not be fooled by any of these pictures, the car needs a complete restoration. Over the years of owning this car I have collected and/or replaced many of the rare parts that will be needed to restore this automobile. As a result, everything on this car with the exception of the clocks and the rear radio, function beautifully. I even rebuilt the front and rear air-conditioning, including the compressor, hoses, and push button controls. The way I kept track of my work progression was by painting everything that I repaired. You will see that in the photographs. I’ve rebuilt the suspension, the generator, the brake system, the horns, and I pulled off the engine valve covers and oil pan and checked bearing conditions. I’ve been through the electrical system on the car as well and made everything function including power vents, power windows, power locks, front radio and antenna. Let me say this again, the car will need a complete restoration but will serve until then as fully functioning Ghia with a bad rear interior.
To facilitate this restoration, included in the sale of the car is many necessary parts. First off, a full set of reproduction side glasses, reproduction rear quarter inner wood, new tail light lenses and reflectors, an incredible condition textured dash cowl, completely restored LeBaron hubcaps with new reproduction centers plus spare centers, and finally a complete trunk floor and quarter panel set (the replacement panels have a very light amount of rust–pictured), plus four lower doors, all for rust repair. A fresh and functioning Leece-Neville spare alternator along with various other parts is included. One deviation from stock will be the rear radio supplied with the vehicle has the correct control panel however the radio is out of a 1955-56 limousine that would have been mounted in the front, so it has an extra long cable. Both units have been rebuilt and function perfectly. The rear radio will mount in the trunk by the air conditioner and cannot be seen.
What’s wrong with the car: Beside needing a complete restoration it is extremely rusty. Also the Imperial emblems on a Ghia that appear on the fenders and the trunk were specific to 1960-61. The ones on this car are not correct but have a very close appearance.
Jackie Kennedy in the 1960’s was a style icon. She came from a fabulously wealthy family and married into the Kennedy family. Prior to becoming the first lady she was recognized as a trend setter. Her husband was elected into office in 1960 and instead of choosing the Whitehouse standard of Cadillac, she chose a Ghia limousine. Her 1961 (‘60 and ‘61’s were identical body styles from Ghia) appears in this picture outside the Capitol as she leaves from viewing her husband lying in state.