A thirty year-old concept from Ghia comes of age. Perhaps?
It has been stated before upon these pages : The future of the distant past looks considerably more futuristic to our eyes now than that of its more recent equivalent. By way of illustration I urge you to cast your eyes upon this; a 1989 projection of millennial thinking around the future of the sports car, the work of Ford’s Italian think tank, carrozzeria Ghia. But while the idea of a four door sports car might have been considered somewhat unusual at the time, it was not entirely unheard of.
After all, two years previously, a rival US carmaker presented an even more outré sporting four-door to the media’s glare – Chrysler’s mid-engined, Lamborghini-based Portofino concept. Like it, Ghia’s Via, which carried the Blue Oval of Dearborn on its nose, was designed as a purely conceptual prototype, with no production intent at all.
Via’s dramatic proportions, with its short nose, near-seamless bonnet to screen transition, arching roofline, and generous wheelbase, combined with its clean, muscular surfacing, suggested a midships engine layout, particularly given the striking visual discrepancy between front and rear overhangs and the pronounced haunches over the rear wheels.
One of the more interesting stylistic features Ghia employed was the placement of the headlamps. Instead of using the more normative retractable pods beloved of car designers of the time, the lamp units were placed in recesses at the base of the windscreen – (á la Fiat Multipla). Each headlamp cluster contained nine lighting elements, allegedly programmable for multiple functionality.
As could reasonably be expected from such a vehicle, Via employed ground effects technology on the underside in addition to a large deployable tail spoiler, which retracted into the bodywork when not in use.
Although no powertrain was fitted, Via was said to have been envisioned with a transversely mounted, turbocharged V8 driving all four wheels through a six-speed gearbox, although where this was to have been mounted remains something of a mystery. Certainly there was unlikely to have been sufficient space for an in-line four, to say nothing of a bent eight ahead of those front wheels. In fact, looking at the vehicle with 21st century eyes, an electric powertrain appears to more readily suggest itself.
Really, in form, in proportion and in character, Via suggests a vehicle of the current era rather than one from thirty years ago, a matter which lends Ghia’s design team (which is said to have included Callum brothers, Moray and Ian) a modicum of credit – for prescience, if nothing else.