Way To Blue

A thirty year-old concept from Ghia comes of age. Perhaps?

(c) old concept cars

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.

(c) old concept cars

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.

(c) Wheelsage

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.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

10 thoughts on “Way To Blue”

    1. D Gatewood: You ask where their heads go? Presumably the same location Mercedes CLA rear passengers place theirs for safekeeping.

    1. Yes, I believe there is very little natural light available within the CLA’s boot once the lid is fastened.

  1. This shape went off in two directions. Some of it became the Ford Probe Mk2 and some it seemed to end up in Gothenburg. That´s the value of blue-skies design work.

  2. Ah, something from the days when Ghia actually meant something and had an actual studio as opposed to being a badge stuck on the side of a mildly tarted up Fiesta.
    Ford got Vignale as a sort of job lot when they bought Ghia. Wonder how long it’ll take for that once significant name to be sufficiently degraded as to go the way of the late Ghia?

    1. Odd you should say that DP, only today I noticed a Mondeo Vignale in Irish taxi livery. Lurid decals and all. I suspect the rot is already setting in.

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