Legendary crooner Dean Martin, along with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., formed a group popularly known as the Rat Pack in the 1960s. The trio, joined by sometime-members Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford (brother-in-law to President Kennedy), epitomized and exuded a type of pre-rock ‘n’ roll cool wherever they went. They seemed to own Las Vegas, their home away from home; whenever the Rat Pack was scheduled to appear in one of the casinos, hotel rooms in Vegas completely sold out, and people resorted to sleeping in their cars. All of Vegas hoped for a chance to rub shoulders with the famous group of swingin’ friends.
The Rat Pack thrived throughout the 1960s, each member of the group trying to out-cool the other onstage and in life. So it comes as no surprise that both Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin owned one of the most rare and expensive cars of the time, the elusive Ghia L6.4. If you have never heard of this model of car, don’t feel bad: the company only made 26, and reportedly only 17 exist today.
You are in luck, though, since you can now buy one, specifically the car owned by Dean Martin, a 1962 Ghia L6.4:
The Ghia L6.4 has an interesting history. The cars were conceptualized by Eugene Casaroll, who created the Dual Motor car company. From 1956-1958, the company produced the Dual Ghia, a car based on a concept car called the Dodge Firebomb. [Editor's note: can you believe a car was once actually called the Firebomb? In today's world, you would be asking for trouble...] The car’s chassis was built in the USA, then sent to Italy to be finished by the Ghia Carrozzeria. Of these, only 117 were ever built, most of them convertibles.
In 1961, Casaroll resurrected the Dual-Ghia concept, although this time, to save money, they had the cars built entirely in Italy. These cars were first known as the Dual Ghia L6.4 and later as Ghia L6.4. Although only 26 coupes ever saw the light of day, Dean Martin found the car “insufficiently exclusive” and asked for further customizations.
The listing describes Dean Martin’s car:
“(This car was) subtly customized for him by Hollywood’s King of the Kustomizers, George Barris. Identified by a plaque on the center console and a pair of original Sixties’ Barris Kustoms decals inside the corners of the windshield, this exceptional car has never been restored, nor needed restoration. Finished in black that highlights its body lines and the vast glass area of its greenhouse, the oval headlights reflect Barris’s touch. It is fitted with a Nardi woodrim steering wheel and all the luxury touches expected of an exclusive Sixties semi-custom.
Power comes from a 335hp Chrysler 383 cubic inch V-8 with TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes and air conditioning. Chrome wire wheels with narrow whitewall tires are highlighted by thin chrome accents around the wheelwells and along the rocker panels nicely setting off thin chrome front fender vent trim. The black leather interior is original and has an inviting patina”
One last bit of trivia about the Ghia L6.4 cars… there was no parking gear on the transmission, which meant parking on even a slight incline was trouble. But if you were Dean Martin, what did you care about that kind of trifling detail?
Are you cool and swingin’ (and rich?) enough to own this flamboyant car? Are you ready to claim the title King of Cool from Dean Martin? And would you be bold enough to replace Dean’s name on the plaque in the center console with your own?
We guess this is the kind of car you take one look at and either fall in love with, or walk away.
As Dean would say: “That’s Amore!”
More stories about the Ghia L6.4:
Chrysler’s Italianate Diversions, Part Two: the Ghia L6.4 (AutomotiveTraveler.com)