The story about the purchase of my 64 Imperial Ghia Limousine is as much about resolving an unfinished part of my life, as it was realizing a dream.
Ever since I was a kid, I remember seeing my first Ghia Limousine while watching the "Mission Impossible" TV series. From then on, I watched the show every time a new episode came on. I found myself disappointed when the story did not included the Ghia.
In several episodes the Ghia was really the star of the show. Then, later after the show was off the same Ghia's (2) which were owned by Universal Studios showed up occasionally on "It Takes a Thief" and one episode of "Banachek."
Later, after seeing the newsreel footage of President Kennedy's Funeral, I saw brief clips of Mrs. Kennedy riding in a 1960 Ghia in the funeral procession. Since I was only 13, I could not convince my father who was a Cadillac dealer that he must find and buy a Ghia Limousine for me.
Years went by, and after collecting and restoring everything from Lincolns, Imperials and even Morris Minors, I saw an ad for a '64 Ghia Limousine for sale. At the time I was in police work and they wanted $14,000 for the car. I flew to see the car and I had decided in my mind I was going to buy it no matter what it took.
I made arrangements with the owners and I sold my house to buy the car. Now I was ready to complete the dream. But something else (like so many other times) came up. I had a friend who was also a police officer, who was building a house. The bank was going to foreclose on his construction loan unless he came up with more money. I gave him the $14,000 to complete his house, with the understanding he would pay me back. He didn't, and I lost it all.
I didn't give up. I flew to Ohio to see the '57 Ghia used in the movie Godfather Part II. I flew to Pennsylvania to see two '60 Ghias owned by Paul Stern that were supposed to be Rockefeller cars. I flew to California to see the '60 Ghia owned by Pat Brown, and I contacted Universal to see if they would sell one of the '64 Ghias. They said no.
I found a '63 in Missouri owned by a crazy doctor who wouldn't sell.
Finally, after looking and contacting a friend in Phoenix, who put me on to a guy in Philadelphia who had a '65 but it was not a Ghia - It was one of the "Imperial Barreiro's Limousines".
Thinking I would never find another one, I bought it.
No more than a month later, I spotted an ad for a '64 in Hemmings in St. Louis and bought the '64 over the phone. I have since sold the '65 to a man in Buffalo, New York.
The '64 that I have is a Landau model, with the oval back window and the blanked-out rear side windows:
It was originally purchased by a jeweler named Marvin Kohen. He bought it from from Walton Motors in Chicago, Illinois. The car's front end has been updated twice once to a '65, then to a '66 grill.
The interior is beige broadcloth and it has a couple of interior items which I am told were only put on early '64 Imperials, one being the spring loaded armrest compartment doors and also an Imperial script on the center of the dashboard.
The 1964 Imperial spring-loaded door armrest pocket covers were only installed up to October of 1963. And the "Imperial" nameplate script on the dash garnish molding (below the windshield) was stopped even earlier than that. The car has 58,000 original miles and it is in remarkable condition. The dash instruments, pad and controls look brand new.
Interestingly enough, the car does not have a tilt wheel but does have dual air and two radios (one AM-FM and one AM). The power division window is the original and it works perfectly. All of the options including the auto-pilot work. I rebuilt the front end and suspension completely after I bought the car and plan to do some work on the padded top and some minor interior upholstery repair.