Italy in the 1950s produced some pretty outlandish automotive designs – and a fair few of them came from Ghia. Few were as striking, however, as this one-of-a-kind Abarth coupe that’s now up for sale.
In something of a forecast of mergers to come decades later, Ghia rebodied this 1953 Abarth 1100 Sport (itself based on the Fiat 1100) alongside the much larger Chryslers it was building at the same time.
With a nose like a jet airplane and streamlined bodywork to match, it debuted at the 1953 Turin Salon and surely stunned the gathered crowds.
Ghia subsequently sold the concept car to one Bill Vaughn in the US, who rebadged it as the Vaughn SS Wildcat and displayed it at the New York Auto Show in 1954. Vaughn claimed it was powered by a V8 with overhead camshaft instead of the four-cylinder engines with which all other 1100s were fitted – the nameplate representing the engine’s displacement in cubic centimeters.
The concept car was then “lost in time,” according to RM Sotheby’s, until it was discovered in a barn in 1982. Its current owned bought it in 2010 and spent the next five years comprehensively restoring it to original condition.
Upon its return to the scene in 2015, it won best-in-class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, losing out for best-in-show to a 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Cabriolet – the vast majority of winners coming form the pre-war period.
It’ll be offered for sale in Monterey, California, this coming August, where it’s sure to fetch a suitably high price. But you can check it out now in the gallery of artful photography by Angus McKenzie, presented courtesy of the auctioneer.