Our august editor Mark pointed out to me how I might bring some of the rare, quirky, and oddball cars I’m always posting to our internal Slack chat to you. So here we are, with a segment I’m going to call Rare Rides.
Here’s our first entry, from a Hemmings listing, is a fantastic looking Ghia Probe I concept from all the way back before automatic transmissions and air conditioning: 1979.
The Karmann Ghia is familiar to most automotive enthusiasts as a styling exercise intended to turn the Volkswagen Beetle into a slinky “sportscar” using pedestrian internals. The resulting Type 1 Ghia debuted way back in 1955 and added some (more) Porsche styling to the family sedan. Assembled by Karmann in Osnabrück, Germany, with styling from Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy, the curvy two-door offered little performance, but much style, compared to its stablemates.
However, the Type 1 Karmann Ghia wasn’t the only car to bear that German-Italian nameplate.
Farewell to our Ford Sierra’s reasonably adequate, high compression and emissions free 2-liter Pinto motor because it’s time to visit Lima, Ohio — not Peru — with a bonus question for the truly tech-savvy among the B&B.
From the late 1940s into the 1960s, Chrysler had most of its high profile concept and show cars fabricated by Ghia in Italy. Chrysler liked how the Italians did high quality work at prices far below what union labor would have cost them in Detroit, and Ghia liked the work and the revenue as Italy was rebuilding after World War II.
The relationship was mutually beneficial in more ways than just financial. Styling and technical ideas flowed in both directions between Highland Park and Turin. Giovanni Savonuzzi scaled down Chrysler design chief Virgil Exner Sr.’s Chrysler D’Elegance concept into Volkswagen’s Karmann Ghia. Exner, for his part, was perfectly happy to put Chrysler corporation nameplates on concepts that originated at Ghia. (Read More…)
After seeing this 1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 on Tuesday and this 1980 Volkswagen Dasher four-door hatchback on Thursday, it’s only fitting that we should wrap up this week’s Junkyard Finds with yet another old VW: a seldom-seen-in-self-serve-yards 1972 Karmann Ghia. (Read More…)
“Wait! Is that a…”
“Are you British?”
“I haven’t seen one of these since I left Venezuela as a teenager, only rich people had Sierras!”
Behold random responses from gawkers of TTAC’s Project Car. The surprises continue after several hundred miles under the Ford Sierra’s belt, as life with this fish out of water is far from a compromise. (Read More…)
In the late 1950s, when Chrysler executives asked Virgil Exner Sr to show them what could be done with a highly personalized future car for the popularly priced Plymouth brand, the Chrysler design chief took them at their word and came up with something so personal that he named it XNR, after himself. One of a series of Chrysler Corp show cars built by Ghia in Italy, the XNR was based on the compact Valiant chassis. Unlike many of the other Exner-Ghia concepts that featured Mopar’s marquee motor, the Hemi, the XNR is powered by a souped up version of what would in time become venerable but what was then a new engine, the Slant Six. With its asymmetrical and quirky styling, the little speedster is quite an interesting car, but its provenance, which includes being both Exner’s and the Shah of Iran’s personal vehicles and surviving a Mideast civil war, is even more interesting. (Read More…)
It’s possible that the Ghia-built 1957-58 Crown Imperial limousine was Chrysler’s effort to show the other members of the Big 3 automakers that they too could sell an extravagantly assembled and appointed ultra-luxury car and lose big money on each and every unit they sold, just as Ford did with the Continental Mark II and the General Motors did with the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. More likely, though, Chrysler executives saw the Imperial limos as carrying on a nameplate that had graced Chrysler’s most elegant and exclusive cars since the 1920s. Perhaps more than the other big Detroit automakers, Chrysler had a reputation for innovative engineering and it used that reputation to give the Imperial some cachet. The Hemi engine, disc brakes, power steering and the Powerflite, Chrysler’s first automatic transmission, were first offered on the Imperial. Still, as the 1950s went on, Cadillac’s dominance in the luxury class went from strength to strength. Though Packard fell by the wayside, Chrysler managers soldiered on with the company’s luxury marque. (Read More…)
It’s been a while since our last update on TTAC’s intercontinental project car: a UK-spec 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia finished in Rio Brown. Since then the Sierra’s gifted creator passed away and more positively, Ford wisely ditched its Titanium trim level for a famous name befitting a premium offering with brown paint…even if it isn’t Ghia.
Jealous much of TTAC’s sweet ride, FoMoCo? (Read More…)
I took my first driver’s-license test in a 1979 Ford Granada, and so I always notice Granadas (and Monarchs) when I see them on the street (very rarely) and in the junkyard (slightly more frequently). (Read More…)
It happened. TTAC finally has their very own Ford Sierra.
Carrozzeria Ghia and Ford go way back, with the Ghia name getting slapped on everything from the Fiesta to the Barchetta. A few days back, I snapped this photograph in a Denver junkyard. What sort of car do you think we’re looking at here? (Read More…)
I’m going drifting. I’m going drifting dressed in the finest English brown velour ever to roll out of Dagenham, England. I’m going drifting in what this week’s Curbside Classic should have been, a 1983 Ford Sierra. And with that, I rejoin TTAC after a long hiatus due to our wonderful country sending me to various deserts to hunt for Osama bin Laden.
I have survived, although my Hilux did not after one ill-placed Taliban rocket sent shrapnel through the radiator. I also relish returning to write for one of the finest audiences I know, the Best and Brightest.