By on February 8, 2017

1979 Ghia Probe 1 Concept

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.

1979 Ghia Probe 1 Concept

It debuted for the 48th annual Frankfurt International Motor show, and — unlike many concept vehicles — it actually works. It’s powered by the 2.3-liter engine from a contemporary Mustang. Many of you will undoubtedly take issue with this engine, then tell us all about why it’s so awful. The design managed a drag coefficient of just .22, which is both impressive and important in a post-OPEC Crisis world. For comparison, General Motors tells me a 2014 Corvette Stingray has a drag coefficient of .28.

1979 Ghia Probe I Concept

Underneath all the glorious and dramatic coachwork, though, sits Ford’s familiar Fox platform. Sajeev should probably buy it and turn it into a Mark IX Ghia 3.5 EcoBoost. I know it’s possible.

1979 Ghia Probe I Concept

1979 Ghia Probe I Concept

More photos are available at Hemmings.

[Images: Scott Grundfor Co. via Hemmings]

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31 Comments on “Rare Rides: This Fox-Platform Ghia Concept Wants to Probe Your Bank Account...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Probe” wasn’t a good vehicle name then, and it didn’t get better when they actually got around to applying it to a production car.

    Signed, someone who actually did like the Ford Probe, but couldn’t get over the name.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Well “Pokey Shaft” didn’t fit on the back properly.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I still remember the uproar among the Mustang faithful when Ford floated the idea of replacing the Mustang with the Probe.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Yep.

        https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/32572009286/in/dateposted/

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Interesting, and it reminded me that I had a Probe 1:18 scale car as a child, in white. Red interior. Whatever number that red one is in the pic there.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            Ford really confused things using the Probe name for both their aerodynamic research/concpet cars AND a production car. (I guess Ford could not think of anything else when they decided it wasn’t going to be a Mustang.)

            The one in my picture is the production car, no number:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Probe

            You of course found the Probe I. The Probe II is probably the least known of the Probe concept cars; it is also confused with the second generation Probe production car:

            http://www.carstyling.ru/en/car/1980_ford_probe_ii/

            The Probe III was built by the Ford of Germany design studio. It heralded the Ford 1982-1987 Ford Sierra; and was more of an influence on the Ford Taurus than the 5000s was:

            http://oldconceptcars.com/1930-2004/ford-probe-iii-concept-1981/

            The Probe IV was widely written about when it came it; it also made a cameo appearance in the movie 2010 — The Year We Made Contact:

            http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z2023/Ford-Probe-IV-Concept.aspx

            http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_456565-Ford-Probe-IV-1983.html

            The Probe V was the final car in the Probe series of concept cars. It achieved the lowest Cd of the entire series — 0.137 — equivalent to that of an F-16 jet fighter.

            http://cardesignnews.com/articles/concept-car-of-the-week/2015/08/concept-car-of-the-week-ford-probe-v-1985

          • 0 avatar
            Coopdeville

            Don’t forget the truly terrible Back to the Future II edition.

            http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/bttf/images/9/92/Ford_probe_2015.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20071115195208

    • 0 avatar
      Ostrich67

      But if you played the old game of adding the word “Anal” to all of Ford’s car names then “Probe” is hilarious.

    • 0 avatar
      mrentropy

      Marshall: As I was saying, imagery and metaphor have been used to sell products forever.
      Mary: Please, Jesus, take me now.
      Marshall: Take the Ford Mustang, for instance. It’s named for a powerful and agile animal, qualities we also seek in an automobile. It’s called transference.
      Mary: Okay, what about my Probe? Exactly what image is that supposed to transfer? Because all I’m getting is a paper dress, metal stirrups, and legs akimbo. Exactly what was the thought process behind that marketing coup? Say, Bob, what’s a metaphor for an invasive, somewhat humiliating procedure, because we really need something to compete with the Chevy Speculum.
      –In Plain Sight (Season 1, Episode 1)

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Looks vaguely familiar. I probably saw it in Car and Driver.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    Hi Corey;

    Great find, thanks for sharing. I read about the Ford Probe series of aerodynamic research cars in working on my Ford Timeline, and even built paper models of the Probe IV and Probe V to add to the display:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/17399562900/in/dateposted/

    The Ford Probe IV was on display at a Ford dealership in Conroe (north of Houston), TX. Unfortunately, I did not get to see it, and it is gone now.

    I assume the Probe I, like the Probe IV, was sold off by Ford when they sold off a batch of concept cars as a fundraiser a few years ago. I also did not realize that it was built on an extended Fox platform.

    Thanks again.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Hey man, long time no see.

      You should drop by more often, the honor of the second generation Taurus depends on it! Lol kidding.

      Excelent points, I’ve talked before about how the misconception that Ford stuck an Audi in a Xerox machine to make the Taurus. The whole world was going aero, starting in Europe, and it naturally progressed that way. Taurus was the first mass market Euro-influenced aerodynamic American car to become common place rather quickly. It is not unreasonable to point out similar styled cars, but claiming one is just a cheap forgery of another is ignorant in this case, indeed in many cases where styling ques intersect from different different and independent sources.

      Quick update on my Taurus:
      Past month or so, its had new brakes (caliper and hose), trans service (fluid, filter, pan gasket) and the new front strut and spring assemblies should be here this week. I love making progress on it. Its running, shifting and now stopping quite well!

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Thanks John. I really appreciate the help you and and TCCA forum gave me with the Blue Goose. I still have it, though it mostly sleeps under a cover now. We moved to a neighborhood where it will be fun to just cruise around it with; now that I am no longer DD’ing it.

        I have been enjoying your contributions. Things have been busy for me; so I just hang around here (my excuse is that I work in the auto supply chain now), and Facebook.

        It was early in the days of working on my timeline that I was active on the TCCA forum (it started out as a Taurus timeline.) Since then, I have completed it from the 1903 Model A all the way to 2015; have picked up a couple of 2017 diecasts since.

        https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/17560783706/in/dateposted/

        Take care.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        I remember seeing my first 5000s for the first time; the first jellybean car that came from the research like the Probe I. The 5000s sedan actually slightly edges out the Taurus as my favorite sedan, but the Taurus wagon was much better executed in my opinion compared to the 5000s wagon.

        A quick study of the Probe III, Taurus, and 5000s would make obvious which of the two most influenced the Taurus. The clam shell doors and under bumper air intake are trademarks of the Probe III, and looks nothing like the 5000s. The only thing they have in common is being shaped by the wind tunnel.

        Plus, history documents this is true:

        http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1986-ford-taurusmercury-sable-at-this-moment-you-mean-everything/

        Eric Taub mentions in his book that when team Taurus saw the 5000s for the first time, they were already deep in the design process, and it only confirmed they were on the right track. But I have all but given up on trying to set the internet straight.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The chassis number made me LOL – 0GHA RD PRBI 001. It uses the 2.3 turbo from the 1979 Mustang Turbo, a truly awful engine, even as 2.3s go. And it says it uses an extended Fox chassis. The ad copy is unintentionally hilarious.

    Want to see something else that will wake you up? How about a ’69 El Camino, that looks like it hit a bridge pillar head-on at high speed. With biohazard stickers. Yours for only $894 at auction:

    https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/cars-for-sale/chevrolet/El-Camino/1915549.html

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Cool concept. Lots of late-’70s Ford styling cues.

  • avatar
    C W

    Was this somehow the inspiration for the first-generation Honda Insight?

    Swap out the back seat for a NiMH battery pack and the 2.3 engine for a 1-liter 3-cylinder, trim off the front and back overhangs…

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      It is more likely that like the 5000s/Taurus pair I mentioned above, there is a resemblance because both were shaped by the wind tunnel and similar high-mileage requirements.

  • avatar
    John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

    “…from all the way back before automatic transmissions and air conditioning *were nearly universally standard*: 1979.”

    Fixed.
    :)

  • avatar
    never_follow

    That interior… at first glance, I was like wow, nicely styled – huge greenhouse, tan leather, reasonable controls. But upon second glance, it looks like they used that HORRIBLE vinyl that our kitchen chairs were made from when I was a kid.

    They had a reasonably decent grain look, but they were sticky and uncomfortable as well as poor wearing. Such a shame, as if it were tan leather, I’d be down.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Nice full moons. They sell the 3D decazoid attached to them.

  • avatar

    Goodness that would look SO CHOICE next to TTAC’s Ford Sierra.

    FYI: that’s not the original motor. When that was new, the only 2.3 available had a blow thru carb. That motor is 1983-ish.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    For some reason, I look at this and all I see is a Chrysler Daytona Shelby that mated with a GM EV1


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