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June 14, 2002
Ford Puts Past Visions of the Future on the Block
By PHIL PATTON


At 2 p.m. on Sunday, a Christie's auctioneer, Dermot Chichester, will bring down his gavel inside an unusual venue: the Ford Motor Company's Product Development Center in Dearborn, Mich. Ford hopes to raise a million dollars for charity by selling 51 of its concept cars from automobile shows past.

Concept cars — preliminary models of possible future vehicles — have grown more important over the last decade or so as manufacturers test new ideas and try to build enthusiasm for upcoming models among the public. But after their travels on the auto show circuit, most vanish into storage. In decades past, many concept cars ended up in junkyards.

Miles Morris, the international head of Christie's motorcar department, called the auction prototypes "the visual history books of motorcar designs."

The cars on sale include the stunning 1992 Mustang Mach III, the 1995 Lincoln Sentinel (which would be at home in the Batcave) and two versions of the Indigo (pronounced "IN-dee-go"), a street dragster produced in 1996.

Also to be sold are the first concept cars for the revamped Thunderbird and the Lincoln Blackwood pickup.

The cars will be on public display in Dearborn from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 14 and 15, and from 9 a.m. to noon the morning of the 16th.

"These cars have helped define us as a company," said J. Mays, Ford's vice president of design. "Rather than letting them fall apart in the warehouse or crushing them, we wanted to put these prototypes in the hands of other people who love them."

But if these cars are of such historical value, shouldn't they be saved and displayed, as they are at other companies, instead of sold off?

"We would never do that," said Kip Wasenko, a designer at Cadillac, which has plans to display some of its concepts in a company museum. "They are part of our history."

General Motors, which created the idea of publicly displaying concept cars with its traveling Motorama shows in the 1940's and 50's, crushed or gave away many show vehicles in the past. Chrysler has several at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, in DaimlerChrysler's United States headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn but not affiliated with the company, displays several important concept cars, including the first, the 1938 Buick Y Job, and so does the Alfred P. Sloan Museum in Flint, Mich.

The largest collection of concept cars in private hands is probably that of Joseph Bortz, a Chicago restaurant owner who has about two dozen, including stars like the 1954 Pontiac Parisienne, the 1957 Chrysler Dodge Dart and the 1954 Packard Panther. The 1964 Dodge Charger is his most recent acquisition.

"The executives ordered them destroyed," Mr. Bortz said. "But the designers started crying, `These are Rembrandts, these are works of art!' The executives would say, `Fine, take it — I don't ever want to hear about it again until I'm dead.' "

Many of Mr. Bortz's cars are General Motors models that did end up in junkyards before being rescued and restored. The company sent many of its Motorama show cars to the Warhoops junkyard, near its research center in Warren, Mich., north of Detroit, Mr. Bortz said.

The vehicles at the Dearborn auction will be sold without reserve, or a minimum price being set, which could attract buyers looking for a bargain, although Christie's explicitly warns that the cars are "not for use on public roads."

Mr. Morris of Christie's said he has been surprised at the number of inquiries he has received from Ford dealers, who might envision a concept car as a lure in the showroom.

Several of the cars are legacies from the Italian design firm Ghia, which Ford purchased in 1973. Forming a kind of appendix to Ford's design history, these are wild and crazy dream cars, like the Selene II, with a single upright fin on its back and a podlike passenger compartment that makes the car seem to be moving backward. It was designed by Virgil Exner Jr., the son of the famed Chrysler designer.

The startling long red IXG car from 1960, nicknamed La Drag Car da Records (that's Italian, not rap), was designed by Tom Tjaarda, the son of John Tjaarda, who did the legendary Lincoln Zephyr.

The star car of the Ghia group may be the Focus of 1992, whose head and taillights look like bubbles and whose asymmetrical fiberglass body displays the influence of Art Nouveau and Bugatti. It is estimated that the car will sell for between $100,000 and $120,000.

Mr. Bortz said he will be at the Ford sale, but he's not sure he'll buy.

"I'm puzzled by the idea," he said. "This may turn out to be a whole new way of looking at these cars." He added that it's difficult to predict how valuable the cars may become.

"Some of the models haven't matured yet," Mr. Bortz said, as if describing fine wines in a cellar. "They don't have the depth of character they will acquire in time — the patina."

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/14/automobiles/14CONC.html



 

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Mr. Embargo
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Well they have all been auctioned off!

Here's what they made on each car (for charity of course)

1992 Ghia Focus concept
$1,107,500

1997 Mercury MC4 concept
$645,500

1992 Mustang Mach III concept
$491,500

1993 Lagonda Vignale concept
$403,500

1999 Ford Thunderbird concept
$103,400

1996 Ford Indigo concept with interior
$88,125

1962 Ghia Selene II concept
$88,125

2000 Ford Desert Excursion concept
$70,500

1988 Ford Splash concept
$70,500

2000 Ford Mustang Bullitt concept
$68,150
 

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Mr. Embargo
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FORD VINTAGE CONCEPT COLLECTION BRINGS IN TOP DOLLARS FOR CHARITY

DEARBORN, Mich., June 16, 2002 – The Ford Motor Company concept and memorabilia collection brought in $4,365,968 at auction Sunday, as the company marked its 99th anniversary. Net proceeds from the sale will support a variety of Ford Motor Company Fund charities.

"We’re delighted," says J Mays, the company’s vice president of Design. "Not only have these collectors dug deep into their pocketbooks to help charity, many of them have said they plan to update or restore these concepts and give them a ‘second life’ by showing them at concours, museums and other auto shows."

Mays and others hoped that would happen. In part, that’s what drove the world’s second-largest automaker to team up with Christie’s International Motor Cars and make available an unprecedented collection of 51 concept properties.

"On the company’s 99th anniversary, it seemed only fitting that we would celebrate our heritage in a unique way – one that involved taking a look back at some of the most striking designs and, really, pieces of art in our automotive collection," Mays says. "We’re pleased that these concepts have gone to people who love them as much as we do and won’t fade into oblivion in dusty warehouses – or meet the crusher – as many concepts do."

More than 100 bidders participated in the auction either by phone or in person at the company’s Product Development Center in Dearborn, Mich. Consistent with Christie’s privacy policy protecting collectors, a list of successful bidders and auction attendees will not be released.

The Ford Motor Company concepts were created in design studios in North America and Europe during the past four decades. Some inspired production models. Others remain one-of-a-kind prototypes.

The 1992 Ghia Focus concept brought in the greatest amount at $1,107,500. The least expensive item in the collection was a $470 coffee table book signed by some of the creators of the all-new Ford Thunderbird. The full collection was sold in less than three hours.

"The tremendously successful results of today’s sale are a testament to the astounding desire of bidders worldwide to own a piece of Ford Motor Company’s history," said Miles Morris, Head of Christie’s International Motor Cars. "The fierce competition that drive the price of the Ghia Focus concept to more than $1 million was incredibly thrilling. Equally astounding was the astonishing price for the Mercury MC4 concept, which sold for $645,500 and the 1992 Mustang Mach III concept, which shattered pre-sale expectations at $491,500."

The concept collection included everything from the wildly futuristic 1996 Synergy and sports car models, such as the 1992 Mach III Mustang, to the luxurious Lagonda Vignale from 1993 and distinctively styled Selene II and IXG Dragster created at Ghia studios in the 1960s. The memorabilia collection ranged from books and car models to concept sketches and Model A cufflinks.

"Some people were surprised when we announced this first-ever event," says Mays. "But, judging from the response, this auction has been a pleasant surprise for true automotive enthusiasts who are as excited to celebrate Ford Motor Company’s heritage as we are."
 

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Here's more .......

Ford raises $3.8 million with concept car auction; Ghia Focus fetches $1 million



The Ghia Focus sold for $1 million on Sunday.
By GAIL KACHADOURIAN
Automotive News

The Ghia Focus, a Ford concept unveiled in 1992, sold for $1 million Sunday at the automaker's concept car auction, which brought in about $3.8 million for charity.

The unnamed bidder made his winning offer by phone.

Joining the Focus at the high end of the bidding the 1997 Mercury MC4, which sold for $580,000, the 1992 Mustang Mach III, $440,000, and the 1993 Lagonda Vignale, which sold for $360,000. The lowest winning bid was offered for the 1983 Mini Max, $4,500.

The auction, organized by Ford Motor Co. and Christie's International Motor Cars of New York, was held at the automaker's product development center in Dearborn, Mich. Proceeds will be donated to the Ford Fund, which supports more than 1,000 U.S. charities.

The auction was held on the 99th anniversary of the incorporation of Ford Motor Co. It marks the beginning of Ford's centennial celebration.

Ford design chief J Mays, who proposed the one-of-a-kind auction, did not take part in the bidding. But he said the Taru Lahti-designed Ghia Focus would have been his choice. He said he expected it would bring in more than $300,000.

On Christie's Web site, Mays described the Ghia Focus, which was unveiled in Turin, Italy, as, "a concept that is as close to a piece of art as you'll ever find, an astounding one-off that has less to do with auto design than sculpture."

O.C. Welch III, owner of O.C. Welch Ford Lincoln-Mercury in Beaufort, S.C., purchased the 1995 Lincoln Sentinel for $40,000. He plans to display the concept in his auto museum in Savannah, Ga.

He said he first saw the Sentinel at the auto show in Detroit. "I never thought they'd sell it."

Collector Scott Grundfor of Arroyo Grande, Calif., bought two Probe concepts, the Ghia Brezza, the Ghia Barchetta, the Ghia Shuttler and the Ford Synthesis 2010. He said he doesn't plan on driving them, but he will make them operable in order to make it easier to move them around.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
 

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Any news on the Original Mustang MACH-1 Concept Car?
 
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