So many car design concepts intrigue and delight upon initial viewing but date as quickly. A notable exception to this truism sits below :
The 1992 Ghia Focus. First displayed at that year’s Turin Motor show to rapturous acclaim, it was a compact barchetta style roadster, and it’s radical form language prefigured a new direction for Ford. Its influence however, would ultimately extend further beyond Ford’s Dearborn, Dunton, Merkenich and Turin studios.
Designed by Taru Lahti, who was also responsible for the groundbreaking 1991 Ford Contour concept, the Ghia Focus embodied elements from the voluptuous forms of the 1950’s with references to marine life, and according to some sources, HR Giger’s Alien from the eponymous motion picture. Certainly, the nautical theme ran deep – perhaps the only barchetta design to truly resemble a ‘little boat’.
The Focus’ influence permeated Ford’s design studios, and can be seen in the 1997 Puma, and the 2004 StreetKA; while the interior shapes and surfaces inspired all ‘New Edge’ Ford cabins. Elements of its forms and styling details could also be said to have influenced Chris Bangle’s 1994 coupé Fiat and Centro Stile’s 1993 Barchetta. You can read a design review of the Ghia Focus concept on Car Design News’ website here:
Lahti appeared to be on the cusp of a promising career within the motor industry and could have become one of car design’s brightest stars, such was his singular vision and original take on form and material. Sadly, the motor industry’s loss was industrial design’s gain. Lahti left Ford in 2001 to set up his own interior and industrial design consultancy. For those of us who view the little Focus with the bittersweet glow of unrequited desire, it is tempting to imagine what else his fertile talent could have envisaged.