A one-off debuted at the 1979 Frankfurt International Motor Show and now a piece of Automotive History
1979 Probe 1 Concept Car
Chassis No. 0GHA RD PRBI 001
- One-off debuted at the 48th Frankfurt International Motor Show September 1979
- Carefully conserved preservation vehicle
- Fully running and functional
- Hand built by Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy
- 170HP Turbocharged 2.3 liter Mustang Cobra Engine
- Extended Mustang Cobra Fox Chassis
- Steel and glass body
Ghia’s 1979 Ford Probe 1 Concept: The Car with a Conscience
The 1979 Probe 1 Concept Car represents the re-birth of the “American Dream Car” that Harley Earl’s Buick Y-Job started in 1939 and GM continued with the Motorama Extravaganza’s of the 1950’s. By the beginning of the 70’s the purpose built Dream Car was all but extinct.
Probe I is a product of the collaborative efforts of the famous Turin based design firm Carrozzeria Ghia and Ford. Ghia, which traces its roots in coachbuilding back to 1915 and is former home to design icons, Guigaro, Tjaarda and De Tomaso, hand crafted this one of a kind, fully functioning prototype.
Probe I marks the beginning of a new era. An era brought about by a fuel crisis, at a time where a shift in consciousness toward a cleaner environment was born.
From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1700s until the late 20th Century, Industry consumed as if the Earths bounty were infinite with little to no regard for tomorrow.
In 1973 everything changed. The Arab Oil Embargo that year provided the catalyst. From Oct 1973 to March of 1974 the price of a barrel of oil quadrupled.
Automakers common motivation is to sell automobiles. As a designer, Earle’s solution to this fundamental problem was to anticipate and set styling trends. Automotive designs became based on excess and planned obsolescence with secondary emphasis placed on innovation and function.
Ford had a “Better Idea”. As a facet of Ford’s Project Alpha, Kopka, head of Ford’s design department, reasoned that a design based upon serious Aerodynamic Science was an attainable solution to the fuel economy issue. At that time there was a considerable bugaboo regarding Aerodynamics in Automobile design. It was argued that cars would all look like jelly beans and all look alike. Kopka believed there was considerable room for implementing advanced aerodynamics without sacrificing style and individuality.
Probe I was considerably more immune to the fluctuations of the petroleum market. Its sleek and angular aerodynamic shape achieved a drag coefficient in the wind tunnel of 0.22, some 37% less than the 0.40 then typical for a 2door 4-passenger coupe. It’s use of the newly developed W Code Mustang Cobra Engine was able to double the average fuel economy of the conventional 2 +2 Sports sedan without sacrificing horse power.
The Probe 1 Concept is a seminal step Automotive Design. It represents the rebirth of the American Dream Car, a milestone in function through form and represents a new direction in Automotive Design that changed an entire Industry.