Friday, March 1, 2013

1983 Ford Barchetta (Ghia)

1983 Ghia Barchetta Concept Car

Based on the architecture of the Fiesta XR2, the Ghia Barchetta was an advanced concept for a two-seat sports car, an attractively open market niche at the time.

Barchetta was inspired by the barchettas of the 1950s. It achieved Ford’s goal of demonstrating the potential of an affordable sports car, intriguing European driving enthusiasts about its production possibility.

Barchetta was finished in silver with matte dark grey bumpers and wraparound front indicators, and fitted with perforated 13-inch wheels with Goodyear NCT tyres. It was powered by XR2’s 1.6-litre, 16-valve engine.

The Ghia Barchetta’s shape can be recognised in the eventual Capri sports car created by Ford Australia.

The Ghia Barchetta originated to fill the empty niche identified by Ford’s V.P. of International Automotive Operations for a low cost, modern two-seat sports model, a market left unfilled in the early Eighties. Constructed on the Fiesta XR2 platform, Ghia Barchetta was never intended to be displayed publicly but rather to demonstrate that a profitable market could be developed from good design and standard production components. It is an example of what-might-have-been for its concept did not find a cost-effective production home in Europe even though it eventually inspired the Ford Australia Mercury Capri which was confined to that market.

Constructed by Ghia on the Fiesta XR2 platform, with 86 horsepower 1.6 liter overhead valve 4-cylinder engine, Ghia Barchetta took both its inspiration and its name from the lightweight, elemental barchettas of the Fifties. Constructed at Ghia in steel, the Ghia Barchetta concept’s taut construction with minimal front and rear overhangs emphasized the economy of design inherent in its front-wheel drive platform while displaying the good looks and style of larger packages. The matte dark grey bumpers give Ghia Barchetta a dressed-up look and highlight its rounded wedge profile. Small extractor vents behind the front wheels complement the barchetta heritage and highlight the metal-forming talents of Ghia’s calderai, the traditional crafters of ornamental brass and copperware from the Turin area.

Design Sketch

The realization of the Ghia Barchetta so enthused the sports car fans among Ford Europe’s management that the intention to use it only internally as a demonstration was rethought and it was publicly displayed in 1983 as a concept illustrating the versatility of Ford’s FWD powertrain and chassis components. At least some enthusiasts felt the same, starting a "Barchetta Club" in Germany which counted as many as 10,000 members but still not enough support to find Ghia Barchetta a home in Europe. Built as an operating concept, Ghia Barchetta has a fully functional cloth soft top and rides on 13" cast alloy wheels with 185/60HR-13 Goodyear NCT tires. Ghia’s strength among Ford’s several design studios was its ability, in a very short period, to construct a functional concept, very close to the production realization. Ghia Barchetta demonstrates that capability.

Presented here in its original silver livery with two-tone grey cloth interior, Ghia Barchetta is showing its age. The exterior finish is in good condition but the interior shows the effects of its-life as a demonstrator for the proposition that a sporty convertible could be created on existing components. The driver’s seat back bolster, particularly, is worn through from repeated entry and exit. The Ghia Barchetta concept bodywork is exceptional, functioning well and displaying even panel gaps and smooth panels that would be enviable on a restored car, much less on one that has seen potentially exhaustive use as a concept demonstrator and show car. In 1989 Mazda (now a Ford affiliate) introduced the Miata 2-seater based upon the 323 sedan. It was a runaway sales success and inspired a number of competitors. Ghia’s little Barchetta was just a little too early to catch the wave.

Source: Ford Media Site

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