1953 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe by Ghia
One of only two
The answer is this car. If you knew that, you are likely better versed in anecdotal auto information than me.
Research for this post served up several surprises, including scandalous relationships, lots of money and international intrigue.
They don’t make ’em like they used to
The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has many amazing cars. On my last trip there I saw this unfamiliar-looking Cadillac. One reason it looked unfamiliar is because it is one of only two made.
Although increasingly uncommon at the time, in 1953 it was still possible to export an American car’s chassis and have a body made by someone else fitted to it.
So allow me to explain the connection between the aforementioned elements of this post.
In 1949, following a bitter divorce from Orson Wells, box-office sensation Rita Hayworth married her third husband, Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan, in France.
Prince Aly Khan, as he was more often referred to, was the son and heir apparent of Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims. (Incidentally, Prince Aly ultimately didn’t inherit the title from his father; it was the first time in the sect’s 1,300-year history that a son was overlooked. It was actually Prince Aly’s son, the grandson, that inherited the title.) In any event, according to Petersen Automotive Museum, Prince Aly Khan was the world’s wealthiest man alive at the time of his marriage to Mrs. Hayworth.
Before the end of 1951, Mrs. Hayworth filed for divorce. Unfortunately, the divorce, granted in the United States, was not recognized by France, so it dragged out several years.
During that time, there was bit of a feud over the custody and upbringing of their daughter, Yasmin Aga Khan. Prince Aly Khan was determined to gain custody of Yasmin. So determined, in fact, he offered Mrs. Hayworth $1,000,000; a proposition which she declined.
This is where the car and Turin, Italy come in, but things get a little less certain. I couldn’t track down when it happened, but Prince Aly Khan apparently gave this custom coach-built 1953 Cadillac to Mrs. Hayworth as a gift. My guess is it could have been an appeal to his ex-wife for his daughter.
Unfortunately for both the prince and the actress, that wouldn’t be the last round at failed relationships. However, the car remains.
I can tell you that it looked incredible in person. Despite my passion for historic Cadillac designs, this body by Ghia (from Turin, Italy), looks way ahead of its time when compared to what the wreath and crest was building en masse in 1953.
Take a look at some of the larger shots in the gallery and see what I mean. The design, both inside and out, looks quite sophisticated.
I wasn’t able to locate any information on it’s mechanicals (I will be contacting Petersens’ curator and update the post if I learn anything), but I am assuming it to be identical to what a Series 62 came with that same year. From what I can tell, that would make the engine a 331-cubic-inch V-8 which produced roughly 210 HP.
Continue below to the photo gallery which includes many pictures not shown above.