As a man possessed of virtually boundless vision and drive, Eugene Casaroll almost single-handedly invented the car-delivery business with his foundation of Auto Shippers and his Dual Motors Corporation built fleets of twin-engine military vehicles for America and its WWII allies. Next, he diversified into high-end automobile manufacturing by acquiring production rights to the Virgil Exner-designed, Ghia-built Dodge Firebomb concept car of 1955, which he renamed the Dual-Ghia.
Dual Motors shipped modified Dodge chassis from Detroit to Ghia in Turin, where the sleek, handmade bodies were fitted. Once back at the Dual facilities, Dodge D-500 V-8 engines and PowerFlite automatic transmissions were installed. Production ran from 1957 to 1958, with the original Virgil Exner design only slightly modified under the watchful eyes of Paul Farago (Casaroll’s partner and Ghia’s American representative), who increased passenger and luggage space and specified the subtle aircraft-inspired tailfins.
While total Dual-Ghia production is often quoted at 117 cars including prototypes (with all but two of them convertibles), marque experts cite perhaps 100 were built at most. Priced from $7,646, the glamorous Dual-Ghia cost $1,000 more than Cadillac’s Eldorado Biarritz. The era’s top celebrities, including members of the legendary “Rat Pack,” adopted the Dual- Ghia as their car of choice. While Casaroll once intended to build as many as 150 cars per year, uncompromising quality generated losses on every one built. According to experts, an approximate 73 Dual-Ghias remain today, with enthusiasts closely tracking each survivor. None of the factory’s shipping or original ownership records survive; therefore, history on each specific car has often been collected orally and hand-recorded. Since Dual-Ghias were numbered starting from 100, this example, Car Number 197, is one of the last few of these luxurious performers built.
According to Dual-Ghia owner and noted marque expert Dr. Paul Sable, Car 197 was reportedly purchased new for the daughter of the owners of the Washington Post. Circa 1971/72, the car was gifted to a man who worked for the owners of the Post when he moved away from Washington, D.C. Later, owner Joe Morgan confirmed that Marvin Gregory of Greenville, South Carolina owned the car during the 1970s and he titled it in his name in 1978. The next known owner was Mark Bueker, also of Greenville, who in turn sold the rare Dual-Ghia to Joe Morgan of Hampton Falls, New Hampshire in 2004/2005. Mr. Morgan, who has owned some 16 Dual-Ghias to date, commenced a total concours-level restoration of the car with body and paint by Jimmy Lowrey, the interior by Petter Davidsen, and the engine rebuilt by New England Engine and Machine. In 2010, Mr. Morgan sold the vehicle to the next owner and his wife, who were invited to enter the Dual-Ghia into the 2010 edition of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. There, it formed part of “Class P: Ghia Styling” and garnered a creditable second place.
That same year, the Dual-Ghia was awarded the People’s Choice award at the Fairfield County, Connecticut Concours d’Elegance and it went on to be selected from over 250 entries as the official “Poster Car” for the 2011 edition of the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. The Dual Ghia was next sold to its current owner, in March 2014.
Dual-Ghia 197 remains immensely attractive and show-worthy and exemplifies the unique American presence and Continental panache that only Eugene Casaroll and Paul Farago’s inspired creations can possibly deliver. Beautifully restored, it stands proudly as a tribute to its creators, Virgil Exner’s design genius, and the legendary coachbuilding skills of Ghia’s renowned craftsmen.