Detroiter Eugene Casaroll may not have worked directly for any of the Big Three, but he was nevertheless an essential player in the US automobile industry. His business, Auto Shippers, Inc., had close ties with the Chrysler Corporation, handling the critical task of delivering new Chrysler products to dealers around the country. His other company, Dual Motors, produced massive twin-engine tank haulers for the US Military during World War II, leaving Mr. Casaroll with a handy pile of cash after the war.
While touring the 1953 New York Auto Show, Eugene Casaroll was stopped in his tracks by a stunning new dream car by Chrysler – the Ghia-designed Dodge Fire Arrow. Chrysler’s head of design, Virgil Exner, had cultivated a fruitful relationship with the Italian carrozzeria, but he struggled to convince Chrysler’s conservative board that the cars were worthy of production. Mr. Casaroll, on the other hand, had no board to answer to, an idle factory, a pile of cash burning a hole in his pocket, and a dream to see his name in chrome. He acquired the rights to the Fire Arrow design, and Ghia was more than happy to supply him with as many bodies as needed. Casaroll incorporated the new venture as Dual-Ghia and commissioned a prototype, and once the curiously named “Fire Bomb” hit the show circuit, orders for this opulent new boulevard cruiser soon came in.
Casaroll struck an agreement with Chrysler to supply bare 1956 Dodge chassis, which were shipped to Torino, Italy, to receive their coachwork. They then returned to the USA to be fitted with either a 315 cubic-inch Hemi or 315 cubic-inch Poly-head V8. Naturally, this was an extremely costly endeavor, translating into an exorbitant sticker price. Such exclusivity appealed to a select clientele, which included such names as Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, and Lucille Ball. While exact production numbers have long been a source of debate, marque historian Dr. Paul Sable estimates 100 Dual Ghias were built, including one or possibly two hard tops, of which 80 complete cars are known.
This striking example is chassis 105, the fifth Dual-Ghia produced. It was built for Mrs. Esther Jacobson of the Detroit-based Jacobson’s Department Store family. This car is the subject of a meticulous, multi-year restoration by the respected White Hall Restorations of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and is very near to exact original specifications. When discovered by the most recent owner, the car had been repainted and was a bit rough around the edges, but overall quite sound. After careful research, they determined the original specs and colors and aimed to restore the car as faithfully as possible, a process that took in excess of three years of painstaking labor.
Dual-Ghia 105 looks positively resplendent in its original shade of Chrysler Vermont Green, accented with a matching two-tone interior, dark green top, and rare original Motor Wheels chrome wire wheels. The paintwork is gorgeous, and the body is crisply defined with exceptionally straight panels. A minor paint crack is noted along the ridge of the hood, though the finish is otherwise exceptional. The extensive brightwork was beautifully restored at considerable expense.
The Dual Ghia’s cabin is a marvelous blend of Italian sophistication and American mid-century opulence. Chrome dials and controls decorate the body-color metal dash, and an engine-turned instrument cluster houses the large, chrome-trimmed gauges. The detailing is exquisite and a testament to the restorer’s craft. The leather was custom dyed to achieve the proper color, and months were spent sourcing the unique NOS patterned carpeting. As with many early Dual-Ghias, the glovebox bears an engraved plate with the original owner’s name.
Similar attention to detail was paid beneath the hood, where the 315 c.i. Mopar Poly-head V8 sits in an immaculate engine bay. It is authentically detailed in the correct shade of red/orange, topped with a gloss-black oil bath air cleaner, and dressed with period-correct hardware, plumbing, and clamps. Other correct details include the Mopar washer bag and combination generator/power steering pump. The big V8 is paired with a Torque-Flite automatic transmission for effortless cruising ability.
The result of all this fastidious effort is one of the finest examples of a Dual-Ghia extant. It has numerous awards and accolades to its credit, including First in Class & Best in Show at the 2014 Hemmings Concours, a cover story in Hemmings Classic Car (July 2015), AACA 1st Junior Award at Hershey, and many class and special awards at events including Winter Park, The Elegance at Hershey, Boca Raton, Keeneland Concours, Keels & Wheels, Hilton Head, and the Cavallino Classic.
The Dual-Ghia has all the makings of automotive greatness – rarity, power, style, coachbuilt cachet, and a fascinating origin story. This gorgeous example will be right at home in any prestigious collection and is ready for its next custodian to delight in its visual splendor.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7480
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