Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – 1983 Lincoln Quicksilver

We’re definitely not in Kansas any more, Toto. But where in heck are we?

1983 Lincoln Quicksilver by Carrozzeria Ghia. Image: cardesignnews

Acquisitions by Detroit big-hitters was not a phenomenon restricted to the latter-1980’s – it began well before that. Ford had made several stabs at acquiring Ferrari in the late ’60s to no avail, but in 1970, they purchased (from Alessandro de Tomaso of all people) the Italian coachbuilder, Carrozzeria Ghia. In addition to using the Ghia logo as a ‘brougham’ trim level, initially for their European model lines, Ford also used Filippo Sapino’s Ghia studios as an advanced styling skunkworks, commissioning a series of conceptual styling studies and pre-production prototypes over the following two decades.

One of these was the 1981 AC Ghia concept, first shown at that year’s Geneva motor show. Built as a feasibility study for a Ford-sanctioned rally car and/or image building sporting production model, Sapino’s muscular and tightly sculpted body style was draped over the internal body structure and mechanical layout of the contemporary AC ME 3000; itself powered by a mid-mounted Ford 3-litre Essex V6. Championed by Ford’s Bob Lutz, the AC Ghia was unsurprisingly passed over by Ford’s beancounters – one of whom told Car’s Steve Cropley in 1981, “The fact is, we’re not in business to make sports cars”. Go tell that to ‘maximum Bob’…

Nevertheless, Sapino was an industrious man and two years later, at the Geneva show, eyebrows were raised, not only by a striking resemblance to the earlier AC concept, but more importantly at the badge on Quicksilver’s wind cleaving nose. Built on a stretched version of the AC ME body structure, it also shared the British low-volume sports car’s mid-engined layout and chain-driven five-speed manual transmission.

Image: mecum

Sleeker in the flanks than Sapino’s earlier incarnation, Quicksilver’s clean surfaces, flush glazing and truncated tail suggested Giugiaro’s 1981 Medusa, as did the low drag coefficient – (0.30). While the nose styling was a close approximation to that of the AC Ghia, the tail featured distinctive strakes at the rear three quarters, semi enclosed rear wheels and large tail-lamp units which bore more than a passing resemblance to products of Italdesign’s studios. The overall effect then was one of Quai de Javel meets Turin, via Thames Ditton.

Image: wheelsage

The Lincoln badging remains something of a mystery however, given that Ford never made much of an effort to market the nameplate in Europe. Perhaps Dearborn executives for a time at least harboured ambitions in this direction. If they did, they didn’t do so for long. Quicksilver did the rounds of the show circuit until 1986 before being retired from active duty. While it may not have prefigured a production machine with either a Ford, Lincoln or indeed an AC badge, concepts like Quicksilver did go a long way to alter perceptions of the Blue Oval amid the motoring public – an early and more creatively satisfying form of Unlearning if you will.

But what is more depressingly apparent is that almost everyone, apart from the denizens of Quai de Javel themselves seem to have been permitted to produce more convincing looking Citroëns than Citroën themselves. This lexicon grows ever longer.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

5 thoughts on “Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – 1983 Lincoln Quicksilver”

  1. I have not seen this car before, although it picks up so many aspects of other cars that it would be easy to fool myself that I have. It is an odd mix of Ford (Sierra), AC and Citroen that’s not entirely convincing as a whole; although, having just re-read that, I now feel I am being ridiculously picky. Put another way, if anyone was to produce this car today I’d probably be scrabbling around to find a excuse to buy it. In particular, I love the wheels and, of course, the juxtaposition of their chunky, sports car design played against the suave delicacy of those adorable rear spats. A nice find and feature, thanks.

  2. I hadn’t been aware of this one, either. It’s interesting to note how the stance of almost all cars became considerably chunkier by the beginning the decade that gave us MTV and neo-conservatism. This wasn’t a coincidence, as proven by the fact that both Bertone under Marc Deschamps and freelancing Marcello Gandini went for less delicate forms overall than they’d done during the previous years. This is yet another example of the ‘chunky aero’ look that came to define the ’80s. Thanks for having looked this one up, Eoin!

  3. The AC Ghia concept was recognisably from the Dearborn stable, taking Sierra cues and amping them up. The Quicksilver on the other hand was a terrific concept but a terrible Ford. As a pure flight of fantasy it certainly has merits, but a detailed examination reveals features redolent of any number of marques: Citroen flanks, a Porsche 924 nose and the dogleg rear pillars from an Audi 100 Avant spring immediately to mind.

  4. Never seen this car before – in my mind i already add the Citroen logo and lamps to the front and the inevitable airbumps on the lower parts of the doors.
    Would be a convincing shape for an electric Citroen – and a better car for Emmanuel Macron than the DS7 Crossback.

    Thanks for this unknown var.

    1. Poor M. Macron. France hasn’t got a national limousine. That’s a deeply peculiar head of state of affairs.
      And yes, this one was new to me. It screams Citroen from most angles, especially the profile. There was no way this was going to become a Lincoln or Mercury or Ford.

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