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Cars From the Vault: 1953 Ghia Cadillac

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, something which would be the ultimate gift and once was for Hollywood starlet Rita Hayworth...


It’s a 1953 Ghia Cadillac. One of two Ghia-bodied Cadillac’s built in the time period, it includes clear Italian function and rationality in its styling. Stated to be the first car with quad headlights, this is a trend that would be widely adopted in the coming years.


A huge sweeping back window creates a sleek profile, while subtle fins on the back pave way for a few years later when fins would rise to epic proportions.


Making it a true “touring” car is a set of Italian-leather luggage, which matches the rest of the leather interior, nestled behind the front seats (even sixty years later, the interior still smells absolutely superb!)


The fuel door was cleverly hidden among rear side louvers.


The only thing that gives this beauty away as a Cadillac are its iconic logo’d wire wheels and ground-breaking overhead valve V8 under the hood…



…and you can’t forget that unmistakable Cadillac door-closing sound..


Looking at this car in its restored state with candied burgundy paint, you can almost envision that if Rita Hayworth were a car, this would be it. 


When Rita drove this beauty around Los Angeles during the fifties, it would have been its original white color. Getting back to the gift mention though, whoever gifted something of this magnitude and rarity must have had pretty deep pockets. And he did, indeed. Prince Aly Khan, whom Rita married in 1949 and then divorced in 1953, gave her this Cadillac as a gift. Who would spend this amount of dough after breaking up?


Right: Wedding day to Prince Aly Kahn | Left: From Gilda A prince, that’s who. Nobody knows whether the gift was a plea to re-enter Rita’s good graces or merely a goodwill gesture (the two did have a daughter together).


The only thing I know is, I wouldn’t be complaining if this was sitting in my driveway Valentine’s morning, or any day of the year! The nice thing about this 1953 Ghia Cadillac is, it's on view, along with other exclusive and storied cars, in The Vault at Petersen Automotive Museum.


Check out more Cars From the Vault stories. What are you getting your love this Valentine’s Day?

Words: Kristin Cline | Photos: Tim Sutton

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