Ford Via concept sells at auction — to the designer who originally worked on it

Joe Lorio

See Full Image Gallery >>

For car designers, falling in love with your own work, we imagine, must be an occupational hazard. When that work is a production car, the easy solution once the model reaches showrooms is to go out and buy one — taking advantage of friendly, employee pricing. But when your Rembrandt is a concept car, usually after its auto-show tour is done it disappears into an automaker's warehouse or, worse, ends up being crushed. The Ford Via concept car escaped both of those fates and eventually wound up on Bring a Trailer, where it caught the attention of Moray Callum, one of the designers who originally worked on the project.

During the auction, Callum posted a comment on the site giving the background of the Via. The objective was to show a cab-forward design for a proposed Ford powertrain comprising a transverse engine and a T-drive transmission. (Note that this is three years before Chrysler's LH cars — the Chrysler Concorde, Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision — popularized the whole cab-forward idea.)

Callum explains: "The exterior was the result of an internal competition where two designs were picked and combined, the front and [the] greenhouse from one, [and] the rear and [the] body side from another. These were from myself and Claudio Messale. The program was managed by my brother Ian [Callum, who also worked at Ford at the time]."

The car was constructed for Ford by Ghia and made its debut at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show, later appearing at the Chicago Auto Show. Like most concept cars, the Via was built strictly for show, not for go. The car has no powertrain. Only two of the doors open.

Those factors did not dim its ardor for Callum, who said "it's one we're all still proud of." So much so that at the eleventh hour, Callum swooped in and scooped it up with an $11,000 bid. As one member of the commentariat remarked, "It's hard to imagine a better outcome." Indeed.

More From

  • Junkyard Gem: 1969 Chevrolet ChevyVan 108 Camper

    During the 1960s, each of the American Big Three automakers created a forward-control, mid-engined small van design to compete with the big-selling Volkswagen Transporter. With their small footprints and big load-carrying capacity, these vans worked well as RV conversions, and that's what I've found in a northeastern Colorado self-service yard. The Sportvan boasted windows and passenger seating and was marketed as a sort of jouncy, industrial-grade family station wagon.

  • 2020 is the wrong year to launch a car, but Czinger is moving full speed ahead

    Los Angeles-based startup Czinger has remained relatively quiet since it unveiled the 21C, a 3D-printed plug-in hybrid hypercar, in February. Jens Sverdrup, the young brand's chief commercial officer, told Autoblog engineers began testing prototypes on the road and on the track in August 2019.

  • NEVS Sango autonomous shuttle rises from the ashes of Saab

    National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS), the company that purchased Saab's bankrupt carcass in 2012, has introduced an autonomous ride-sharing shuttle named Sango and announced plans to test it in real-world conditions. Saab famously claimed its cars were born from jets, but the Sango looks more like something you'd find in a store that sells small kitchen appliances than on an aircraft carrier sailing across the Atlantic. Its six seats can be moved around and rotated as needed, and the passengers can raise privacy walls if they don't feel like socializing with fellow riders.

  • Suspects in Ghosn's Japanese escape stand trial in Turkey

    Seven suspects went on trial in Turkey on Friday over their alleged involvement in former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's dramatic escape from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul at the end of last year. Ghosn, once a titan of the global auto industry, had been arrested in Japan in late 2018 and charged with underreporting his salary and using company funds for personal purposes, charges he denies. The ousted chairman of the alliance of Renault, Nissan Motor Co and Mitsubishi Motors Corp had been awaiting his trial under house arrest in Japan when he made a dramatic escape in December to Beirut, his childhood home.