1955 Chrysler Ghia Streamline X “Gilda”
SATURDAY JANUARY 21
Lot 1389.1 Salon F- 6
- Coachwork by Carrozzeria Ghia
- Chassis no. 9967
- Engine no. P-32862 AiResearch Turbine
- One off debuted at 1955 Turin Auto Show
- Carefully conserved within the Ford Museum and later private ownership
- Turbine powered and fully running
- One of the most influential design studies in automotive history
This one-off creation debuted at the 1955 Turin Auto Show. Carefully conserved within the Ford Museum and later private ownership, this is turbine-powered and fully running. One of the most influential design studies in automotive history, this has been displayed as a feature car at many of the World’s Leading Automotive Exhibits.
From the late 1920s, manufacturers and designers sought to quantify the benefits of aerodynamic or streamlined styles for automobiles. During the European marketing campaign for the 1946 film noir classic “Gilda,” actress Rita Hayworth was given the nickname “La Vedette Atomique,” or “the Atomic Starlet” for her sleek lines and dangerous appeal. This seems to have prompted Ghia SPA to name its equally sleek aerodynamic study for a jet-powered car after the iconic role played by Hayworth.
The styling of the Gilda Streamline X is the work of legendary Italian designer Giovanni Savonuzzi and was commissioned by Chrysler design chief Virgil Exner, who wished to explore solutions for crosswind resistance and rear-end grip, as well as turbine power. With the forward-look and styling elements from designs such as Gilda, Exner wrested styling leadership away from General Motors’ Harley Earl and put Chrysler at the helm. With coachwork by Carrozzeria Ghia, Chassis 9967, Gilda is superbly constructed, with a sturdy, elegant aluminum body atop a square tube chassis, a separate aluminum floor for the passenger compartment and a full belly pan for aerodynamic efficiency.
Inside, it is both stark and stylish. The short armrests serve as side bolsters to hold driver and passenger in place during cornering, while the dashboard’s two main instruments float underneath a binnacle placed on a simple piece of bodywork sweeping from door to door. Under current ownership, the car received the motive power for which it was originally designed. With careful planning and expert engineering, a lightweight, compact single-stage AiResearch turbine was fitted into Gilda, and Savonuzzi’s vision of a half-century prior was finally realized.
Computer and wind tunnel modeling have determined that the 70hp turbine would be capable of propelling the car up to 160mph. The current owner, a Pebble Beach judge in the Preservation Class, has been a conscientious conservator of the Gilda Streamline X, and today most of the finishes both inside and outside are original. It even still wears its original CEAT tires. Ownership history: Ghia SPA (1955), Ford Museum (Until 1969), Harrah’s (1969-1985), Blackhawk Museum (1985-2005), current ownership (2005).
“At the Turin Auto Show that year, I saw “Gilda”, a prototype that was the sensation of the show. I myself was stunned by it and decided to ask Ghia for a job”
– Bruno Sacco
long time director of Mercedes-Benz design
“One of the ten most significant show cars ever”
– Strother MacMinn
influential automotive designer, writer and teacher at the Art Center College of Design for 50 years.
“The Mona Lisa”
– Michael Lamm