MY GHIA GARAGE No. 9
Ghia under hood was unique on both appearance and some of the hard parts. The car was shipped to Italy in a gray-green sealer. Ghia left that color in the engine bay and on the firewall unless otherwise requested. A similar gray-green color has been observed on DeSoto inner fenders of this vintage, Imperial inner fenders were body colored and other Chrysler models were black. However, all had the firewall painted in the body color. In this picture you can see the new for late model 1957 AFB carburetor. Also, the bolts that hold the fender to the inner fender have fresh plating on them. They should be the same color as the fender.
Ghia only gray-green sealer paint and spray-out plate for undercarriage color. Whether this is actually applied by Ghia or by the factory I’m still researching. In other well researched articles it describes as this being applied after build and before paint. However, I found this paint beneath all of the undercoating, both top and bottom. I believe it is unique because the cars were shipped to Italy on the deck of the freighters with flammable materials inside of them. Hence the paint-like green sealer. It is conceivable that the cars were shipped without undercoating and undercoated later, but I doubt that Ghia would have taken the time and effort to paint anything but the stretch panel green again. The evidence of, for example the trunk floors where they meet the frame, show green applied with absolutely no overspray to the frame or the mounts. No doubt the paint was supplied to Ghia because the stretch panels and roof section all demonstrated spot painting of this green coating by Ghia. Also most definitively of the three ’57-’58 cars that I own, they all have this green paint behind the dash on the firewall.
The transition from gray-green inner fender to black on the hood was not done this way from Ghia. Normally they would just blow color all over the hood hinge while painted the exterior of the car. This would make a mess out of the beautiful gray-green on the inner fender and firewall. I chose this transition instead.
The circled hot water valve was a Ghia installation allowing feed to rear heater cores. Also, the oil filler cap is a vintage aftermarket piece. The screw clamp on the radiator hose is incorrect.
Hot water T-fitting for both the front and the Ghia only rear heater cores.
Engines from the factory were assembled, painted as a whole, and then small parts like the distributor, carburetor and spark plug wire covers were added later. On our restoration we powder coated all of the sheet metal parts on the engine, cadmium plated all of the bolts, and painted the cast iron parts with the appropriate silver color. Fortunately all the colors match. The firewall was painted gray-green but the inner fenders were powder coated green on the interior side and black on the wheel well side.
The brake booster end cap should be gold/yellow zinc plated and has been recently changed to gold/yellow.
Super large military generator which was used on Chrysler built tracked military vehicles was applied to the first Ghias built to try to accommodate the front and rear air conditioning fans. Also, this generator came on the incredibly limited and short-lived, fuel-injected cars from Chrysler in the 1950’s or as special order item. Later Ghias were equipped with the excellent Leece-Neville generator and alternator systems. Overall the generator is about 30% larger than stock, both in length and diameter. Unique to the generator were the two field-coil screws and associated mount.
Modified from original, this is an electronic regulator. It has the appearance of a GM style regulator. The original regulator would have been a coil contact unit. This was necessary because we “hot-rodded” the generator. The original high output generator was still not enough to operate the air conditioners when the car was at low speeds/rpms. The generator was wired for higher amps with stronger field coils and completely rebuilt. Also an external rectifier was mounted on the bottom of the battery tray to control the heat and the amp flow between the generator and the battery .
This is a picture of the unrestored Ghia A/C hose that’s been modified for the rear unit. The right angle hose has been added. It comes off a solenoid that bleeds off freon to help regulate the coldness of the rear unit. At the firewall there are two other T’s incorporated in the A/C lines that run underneath the car to feed the rear air conditioner. All of these are Ghia only.
This is a 1955 limousine showing the bleed solenoid which on a Ghia is mounted underneath the rear seat next to the radio.
In all of my ’57/’58 Imperials, both Ghia and non-Ghia, I’ve experienced poor A/C performance no matter how many new parts I put on or how careful I am with the restoration of old parts. This is not true on my 1960 and up vehicles. After consultation with experts, we have eliminated all of the hot-gas bypass system including the solenoid in the back and replaced the original externally equalized expansion valves with internally equalized versions. Murray part number 3827. These expansion valves have a higher capacity of 2 tons with a 5 degree super-heat. We capped the external equalization tubes off the front and rear evaporators.
Also new for 1957, the first generation RV air-conditioning compressor. These were used for decades. As with the entire car, we’ve gone for slightly over-restored look using only the highest quality finishes. The bolts in this compressor as well as every bolt and latch in this car is either cadmium or zinc plated.
A copy of the 1958 Ghia order/IBM card.
Note the engine number matches the IBM card.
Nice detail shot of the undercarriage. Nothing particularly Ghia in this shot. However witness the first year for torsion bars, which Chrysler still uses to this day on some of their trucks.
The original Chrysler engineering included undercoating. When the first torsion bars came out they rode too noisy and too rough for the Chrysler exec’s. So first they applied massive amounts of extra undercoating, including on the inside of the trunk floor. And then to try to quiet it down and soften the ride they downgraded the Imperial from 15” wheels to 14” wheels and massive balloon tires. Undercoating however must have been part of the original engineering because they used it on the inside of the front fenders since they do not have an upper wheel well, which would allow rocks to be picked up by the tires and dent the fender from the inside out. In previous articles about the Ghia it stated that the tires were upgraded once the vehicle was returned to America. I’m not sure what they did but I’m sure the wheels remained 14 inches.
In this picture and previous pictures you can see cuts in the frame where the frame was extended. Many times this frame is referred to as a convertible frame, however it was supplied on all convertibles and hardtops (no center post on body). The gray-green color which should be covered in inch thick undercoating is the appearance the undercarriage would have had when arriving in Italy. Also, the hardtop/convertible exhaust system, which is different from the sedan, has been stretched to accommodate the Ghia along with a two-piece driveshaft rebuilt with a longer rear section. The exhaust system including the hangers appear as original. I located pictures from the GM proving grounds where they were putting a GM purchased Imperial through evaluation. These are the only shots on the web where I could authenticate the exhaust. On the left side of the image, along the frame rail, you see the two copper A/C hoses and handmade silver retention brackets. ‘55 and ‘56 limos had much more sophisticated armored hoses but as these were added by Ghia, both the brackets and the hoses have a kind of crude look.
Here, used for the first time in 1957, the iconic 8.75 rear axle. Ghia specified heavier rear springs with coil-over rear shocks. The rear leafs are purportedly off a Plymouth Suburban wagon and have about double the leafs of a standard Imperial. The stock stance of the Ghias were very far off the ground. They kind of looked like 4-wheel drives. So I’ve omitted the rear coil-overs and adjusted the car’s attitude to my liking but the coil-overs should be there.