At auction, Ford designer nabs concept car he previously worked on

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.