High Concept – 1992 Ghia Focus

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.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

6 thoughts on “High Concept – 1992 Ghia Focus”

  1. Until I read this I´d had the Ghia Focus lumped in with the Renault Argos, one of the last true mad-as-wasps concept cars that never went anywhere. I still feel the promise of the Ghia was never really lived up to. It was in some ways a final flowering of the organic theme Ford explored in cars like the Mondeo 1 and Taurus. The Puma also had elements of the surface treatment but with the first whisps of New Edge added somewhat incongruously (I still like the Puma). I´d be interested to hear the argument supporting the proposition that the Coupe Fiat owed something to the Ghia Focus. I´m agnostic on that score and would be curious to see what I´ve overlooked.

  2. Ah, I’ve been rumbled. To be honest, it was at best a tenuous reference and one I placed here more as an argumentative gambit – which up to now, nobody appeared to be much taken with. Actually, I started to wonder if I was a one man fan club for the Focus – a concept I really fell for when I pored over the photos in TWBCM back in 1992. What I would say is that the ‘organic’ shape of the headlight covers and some of the surfacing of the Fiat is a little redolent, but it is equally possible that Bangle was marching to an altogether different drum beat.

  3. When I was young I was very impressed by the appearance of this concept and three years later, in the 1995, I saw a lot of his style in the motorcycle Aprilia Gulliver. If you look at the Gulliver’s front indicators, the air vent in the shield and the rails under the saddle, they have practically the same shape on the Ghia. I don’t know the connection between Lahti, Ghia and Aprilia, but the similarities are striking.

    P.S. Do you know that the name Aprilia was chosen in the 1945 by the founder, mr. Beggio, because the Lancia Aprilia was, at the time, the perfection on wheels, so her name was perfect and auspicious for the newborn factory.

    1. Thanks for your comment Federico. That certainly is an uncanny and quite amusing similarity and as such is difficult to view as being anything but intentional. The Lancia Aprilia was an absolute gem of a car, so one could understand Snr. Beggio’s enthusiasm. Thanks for pointing out the link in both cases – they are entirely new to me.

    2. You are welcome, Eóin. Is a true pleasure for me to e able to contribute to this wonderful website.

    3. You’re very kind. I’m very pleased you’re enjoying the site.

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