I don't often feature concept cars that are just mockups, with no engine or running gear. It's fun to look every now and then, of course, and the Ford Coins by Ghia definitely gives a lot to look at.
Carrozzeria Ghia was, for a long time, one of the world's best coachbuilders. Founded in Turin in 1915, the company found early fame for its custom Alfa Romeo bodies, finally winning the Mille Miglia in 1929. Over the years, the company has made bodies for both race teams and celebrities, with even Jackie Kennedy riding away from her husband's funeral in a (Chrysler) Crown Imperial…featuring handmade bodywork by Ghia.
But as mass production, the Oil Crisis, consolidation, unibody cars—pick your poison—descended on the automotive industry, traditional carrozzerias found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. The last caretaker of Ghia was Alejandro de Tomaso, who through his ties in Dearborn sold his shares to Ford in 1970. This relationship had already produced the Pantera, but unlike that limited-production sports car, the Ghia name lasted at least until 2008 as a trim level on European Fords.
The arrangement saw Ghia become, in essence, Ford's concept car store. When they needed a city car concept: Ghia. When they needed a coupe concept: Ghia. When they needed an off-road concept based on the Fiesta: Ghia. When they needed a body for the mid-engined GT70 rally car prototype: Ghia.
Tom Tjaarda was the head of Ghia design at that time, and absolutely pumped out concept cars, including the Coins. Intended to be a look at what a future sports coupe would look like, I find it interesting that the design is nearly opposite to what ended up happening. Modern safety regulations wouldn't allow for that knife edge profile and nose that's aimed at pedestrian shins, and its canopy would be impossible to open in the event of a rollover.
Entering the Coins is done through (er…over) the back of the car, where there's three abreast seating with the steering wheel mounted in the middle—where else?
But my favourite note on the concept is that, apparently, Tjaarda and his team were listening to the song "Three Coins in the Fountain" by Frank Sinatra when designing the car—and included three coins on its nose.
Three coins in the fountain,
Through the ripples how they shine.
And just one wish will be granted,
One heart will wear a valentine.