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Monday, December 31, 2018

Nineties Concept Cars Part 2—Lost in Translation: 1991 Ford Contour to 3rd Generation Taurus

By the dawn of the 1990s, the transversely-mounted engine driving the front wheels had become a standard format for mainstream passenger cars.  Pioneered by British Motor Company on the groundbreaking Mini in 1959 and refined by Honda in the early 1970s on the Civic, it had spread to larger cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, finally showing up on the Ford Taurus in 1986.  This car probably saved Ford from bankruptcy, and quickly became the best-selling car in the US market, a distinction shared by the 2nd generation Taurus, which ran from 1991 through 1995 model years.  By the end of the 1980s, though, Ford's directors were looking for new design themes to carry the car into the 21st century.  They chose Taru Lahti to design a radical show car.

The Contour, which appeared in 1991, stunned auto show visitors and attracted a lot of interest from the Japanese firms, who understood it might represent future compention for their Accords and Camrys…after all, the Taurus had been the first American car to beat them in the marketplace. They were intrigued by the car's body structure, a composite with plastic external panels attached to a bonded aluminum frame. Three years before Chrysler would launch its "cab forward" cars, the Contour's design team saved space under the hood by forsaking the V6 Taurus engine for an inline, transversely mounted 8, actually two 4-cylinder blocks with a patented "T-drive" channeling power to the front wheels.

Like the Focus roadster that Lahti would dream up at Ghia, the Contour fed its head and tail lights from a single internal light source through fiber optics.  And like that car, it featured bodywork with no straight lines or flat planes. Other innovations included a cooling system fed by air drawn from the front wheel wells to reduce turbulence.  In the view above, the ovoid plan and curved window shapes and sections reflect the oval theme selected by Ford's design staff for their next product lines.  The split rear spoiler is also visible above.
The large-diameter wheels and low profile tires are a dominant feature, emphasized by the short overhangs front and rear.  If Lahti had taken a page out of Giugiaro's book and painted this prototype silver, the subtle concave indents running along the car's flanks between the wheels woud be more visible; they can be seen in the top two photos.
The interior featured adjustable pedals, steering wheel and instruments.  The shift lever intruding into the center of the contoured front bench seat is a puzzling detail.  Sadly, the Contour was confined to the show circuit, and unlike the later Focus Concept, was never given a functioning drivetrain, or even more than one opening door.  At the time it appeared, it seemed that a produciton car with this configuration would have hit the car design profession with an impact similar to what the Citroen DS 19 had in 1955.
What is less clear is whether such a car would have been embraced by Americans in the same way they'd adopted the original Taurus, or the way the French had clamored for the DS. For the 3rd generation Taurus which appeared for 1996, designer Doug Gaffka adapted the oval theme to body sections, window shapes and air intakes, and incorporated the subtly defined, shadowed concavity in the flanks which emphasizes length in the photo below. In order to line up the doors and fenders along this concavity, new sheet metal stamping techniques were developed. The new car received good road test reports, but never duplicated the sales success of the 1st and 2nd generation Taurus...
The divergence from the Contour show car may be traced to the proportions of the production car. Without the big wheels and short overhangs, the design loses its aggressive impact. The overall effect was user-friendly, but with more of the flavor of an agreeable bathtub toy than a roadgoing Lear Jet.  It's a reminder of what can get lost in translating a prototype full of fresh ideas into a product adapted to available techniques and components. 

Photo Credits:

All photos:  Ford Motor Company

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Nineties Concept Cars Part 1---- Ghia's Ford Focus Concept: the Future in the Rear View Mirror

As part of our largely-ignored Future in the Rear View Mirror series, we're going to look at concept cars from the 1990s, a period when we began to see some original thinking from designers looking for organizing ideas that were less restrictive than the Giugiaro-originated wedge which had taken over by the late 1970s. That wedge, like the transparent glass prisms of International Style architecture, had originally seemed liberating, but began to wear out its welcome when applied as the answer to every design problem.  When sorting through ancient photo files of car shows I found the shot below from the 1993 Pebble Beach Concours, and said, "Whoa, that's a real piece of design..."
And it was a real piece of design, a breakout effort by Taru Lahti for the Ghia Studios and parent company Ford, executed just two years after he graduated from design school. The first thing you notice are the organic, undulating surfaces, vaguey recalling aquatic creatures.  In the overhead view below, note how the ridges atop the rear fenders bend inward, bifurcating when they reach upward to cocoon the cockpit.  Note also how the outrigger, tendril-like side rub strip shown in the photo above wraps around the rear of the car and retreats into a circular hole, again, like something you might find on a wandering crustacean at the beach.  Also, have a look at the tail lights, a cluster of tiny red circles that looks like a child threw a handful of fiber optic jujubees at the car…There's more to notice, too, like the central exhaust opening and the oval license plate recess...
You never quite stop noticing details on this car as your eyes move over it, and your eyes do move, because the details reinforce the visual movement inherent in the form.  Below, you can see how the surface of the center console between the seats wraps over the rear deck to form a shallow recess which echoes the shallow gully at the tops of the rear fenders.
In the head-on view below, you can see the asymmetrical nostrils in the nose, another organic detail. The overlapping headlight circles, like the tail lights, are fed by fiber-optics from a central light source.  The front air dams, which so often looked like afterthoughts on cars of this period, also appear as though they grew out of the form.
The relentless build-up of arresting details reinforcing enveloping, organic forms continues in the interior.  There are surprises, too.  The undulating silver surfaces which surround the driver's seat never meet over the instruments where you'd expect them to form a hood. Instead, the circular instruments are displayed like pearls inside an oyster shell.
Not even the rear view mirrors can escape Lahti's attention to detail, with wiring and structure separated to reinforce the biomechanical theme. Did I say mechanical? The Focus was actually a drivable car, based on a shortened Escort RS Cosworth platform that never came to the USA.  As in the RS Cosworth, a turbocharged inline 2.0 liter four channeled 227 horsepower to all four wheels, and as the car weighed under 2,100 pounds, performance was memorable. But like the great designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who commented that Lahti's creation was more a work of art than a mere car, we remember the Focus Concept mostly for its designer's unwavering attention to form and detail.  As a work of art, it was, well…focused.
By now you may be wondering why you've never heard of Taru Lahti, and if he's ever designed any other cars.  The answer is that he designed the Contour, an award-winning concept car from 1991, and that its translation into production cars was a textbook example of what can be lost when translating the forms and details of show-stoppers into cars you can buy in a dealer's showroom. But that's a story for our next installment...

Photo Credits:

Top:  the author
2nd thru 6th:  Ghia Studios

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cousins Where They Meet the Eye: Bertone Aston Martin Jet and Ferrari 250GT Speciale

In 1960 the coach building house of Bertone, then primarily occupied with series production of their Scaglione*-designed Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint coupe, hired a young designer named Giorgetto Giugiaro*.  Nuccio Bertone put the new talent to work on a sports coupe for NSU, and also on the ASA* 1000 coupe, a baby GT known as the Ferrarina.  But perhaps with an eye to attracting more profitable work from higher-profile car manufacturers, the maestro also assigned Giugiaro the task of designing a new body for the Aston Martin DB4 GT.  Bertone's Aston Martin Jet appeared at the 1961 Turin Salon...

It may have seemed like folly to try to recast the image of what was then a fairly new car. The short wheelbase, lightweight GT version of the DB4 had bowed in late 1959, and it already wore sleek fastback aluminum coachwork designed by one of Bertone's competitors, Superleggera Touring.  To make the challenge appear a bit harder, Zagato was already producing a still lighter and more aerodynamic version of the new Aston. But Giugiaro was undaunted, and came up with something that resembled neither car.  At the front, slight indentations in the surface forward of the hood recall the traditional Aston grille, but the softly undulating curves of the fender tops contrast with the straight lines of the DB4. The glassy greenhouse takes a notchback form, unlike the DB4 or Giugiaro's recent ASA and NSU coupes. Finally, as if to signal emphasis on comfy touring rather than racing, Bertone executed the body in steel, so this GT is heavier than the "standard" car.

The roof forms flow gracefully into the tapered, rounded rear.  Giugiaro emphasizes that flow with an incised line centered on the C pillar, fading into the surface above the rear fender. Other incised surfaces call attention to the front fender vents.  

Bumpers provide minimal protection (all the better for to see the form) and tail light units are specific to this car.  Because Aston Martin was still busy filling orders for its standard products, the Jet remained unique...

Well, kind of unique.  In the photo above, you see something vaguely similar to the Jet pulling past a Chrysler Turbine* at concours a couple of decades ago.  In 1962, the year after the Aston Jet, Bertone and Giugiaro tried again with a Ferrari.  As with the Aston, Bertone had requested a short wheelbase version; this time a variant of Ferrari's 250GT.  At the time, it was the only SWB to carry coachwork by someone other than Pininfarina, and the only one to carry the twin-nostril grille inspired by the Championship-winning 1961 Ferrari Formula One cars.  As with the Aston, the subtle, sensuous contours wrapped tightly around the mechanicals and the wheels, with a generous amount of "tumble-home" to the glassy roof. Note the way the curve of the lower windshield is carried around the side window sills...  

The Speciale repeats the front fender vents of the Jet, but without the indented surfaces along the flanks.  The roof form flows even more easily into the gently-truncated rear deck, and the rear window wraps around a bit more, to a narrow C pillar with air extractor vents. Note that the angle of the backlight barely changes at the deck, so this is more a semi-fastback than a notchback. The surfaces are simpler and even more flowing than on the Jet. Nuccio Bertone used this Speciale as his personal car, as well as a demonstrator for his company's services.
In the overhead view below, it's easy to see how the flanks curve inward in section, exposing the wheels and tires, and also the tapered tail with simple round tail lights.  While this car impressed Enzo Ferrari, it would take nearly a dozen years before he would give a production contract to Bertone, for the DIno 308GT4. And while Aston Martin would eventually renew its business with Zagato in 1988 and beyond, there would be only one more Bertone Aston Martin*, a kind of sports wagon in 2012.  So the Aston Jet and SWB Speciale were not repeated, and survive as reminders of a an exceptionally creative period in the life of a designer who never gave up on a good idea.

*Footnote:  For more on Bertone and Franco Scaglione, see our post for 12-20-17, "The Arc of Success". The Giugiaro-penned ASA 1000GT is reviewed in "The Etceterini Files Part 3" from 2-2-16, and other designs by Giugiaro are featured in "One of One: A Brief History of Singular Cars" from 9-7-15. The Chrysler Turbine is the subject of "Jet Cars Part 2" from 5-21-16 and "Jet Cars Part 3" from 5-25-16.  Finally, Bertone-bodied Aston Martins are surveyed in "Forgotten Classics---The Other Arnolts", our post for 10-15-16.

Photo Credits:  All photos are by the author except the last one, which is from talacrest.com; Talacrest in the UK is offering the car for sale.   They can probably fill you in on the asking price... 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Forgotten Classics: Frua Designs for Hans Glas and BMW

At the Legends of the Autobahn event during last August's Monterey Car Weekend, we encountered this BMW 1600GT, a car as unfamiliar to most Americans as the BMW Alpina Z-1* featured in the previous post, on display a short distance away.  I drove one of these 1600GTs when it was for sale 3 decades ago, and it seemed to offer the performance of an Alfa 1600, with handling a notch lower on the sharpness scale.  Like the Z-1, it was unfamiliar in part because it was never officially imported into the U.S.  But it's also been forgotten because BMW management decided to erase it from the corporate memory banks, even when it was still being produced...

This seems a surprising factoid, considering what the car was (an Italian-bodied, fastback 2-seater using BMW mechanicals) and when it appeared (2 years before the Datsun 240Z). To understand why BMW practically disowned this car, we'll need to revisit the postwar microcar phenomenon, and the part that Hans Glas and his Goggomobil played in it...
The Glas concern manufactured farm equipment until after World War II, when it switched to making motor scooters, and in 1955 introduced the Goggomobil microcar, a sedan powered by a rear-mounted 2-stroke inline twin cylinder engine of 250 cc (around 15 cubic inches); later engines were available in 300 and 400 cc sizes, and the T-series sedan (optimistically called a limousine in ads) was joined by a Sport Coupe in 1957.  Styling was essentially based upon the idea of scaling down bigger cars.  Both the sedan and TS coupe managed a certain perkiness (at least visually), with the coupe featuring a horse collar dummy grille that forecast the Edsel which would appear later the same year...
The timing of the Goggomobil's release was good for sales, as postwar West German reconstruction was in full swing by 1955, and the Suez Crisis of the following year increased demand for fuel-sipping microcars in general. Keeping pace with prosperity, Goggomobil introduced the front-engine, rear-drive Isar powered by a 600 cc (later 700) flat twin in 1958, and followed this with the one-liter 1004 model in 1962. The most interesting feature of the 1004 inline four was the toothed rubber belt driving its single overhead camshaft; this foreshadowed the fiberglass toothed belt on the Fiat 124 twin cam by five years. By 1963, Glas had upsized the engine to 1300 cc, and released a coupe with a more modern exterior by Pietro Frua, the Italian coachbuilder known for his work on Maserati chassis. The fastback 1300GT coupe bodywork, with low belt line and glassy cabin, was built in Italy by Maggiora to Frua's design...
The Glas concern had larger ambitions, however, and perhaps with an eye on the success of the recently introduced BMW Neue Klasse, they introduced a 1500 four-door sedan in fall of '63, and 1700 versions of the GT coupe and sedan for 1965. The surprise new model, though, was the Glas 2600GT V8, which was aimed at the same clientele as the Mercedes 250SE coupes also introduced in 1965. The engine was based on mounting two of the 1290cc blocks on a common crankcase; thus the new V8 had a single camshaft per bank of cylinders. Again, the new model was styled by Frua and the bodies were built at their facility in Moncalieri...
The sober, rectilinear forms and tall, curved glass greenhouse recalled the Frua-designed Maserati Quottroporte which began production two years earlier.  The resemblance was especially evident at the rear, and the overall impression was so strong that the car was quickly nicknamed the "Glaserati."
The handbuilt cars featured loads of finely-wrought (and expensive) detail, and because they were costly to build, did little to add to the Hans Glas GmbH bottom line. The cars did attract the attention of BMW management, along with the patents for the belt-driven overhead cam and the Glas plant at Dingolfing, which had already produced around a quarter million microcars in addition to the new inline fours and V8s.  BMW bought the Glas enterprise in autumn of 1966, and continued manufacturing the Glas model line in 1967.
BMW discontinued the 2600 version of the V8 in late summer of 1967, and introduced a 3 liter version of the V8 which Glas engineers had developed before the takeover.  This new 3000GT kept the Frua bodywork and Glas grille design, but sported BMW roundels as well as Glas badging.  At the same time, BMW decided to honor the Glas concern's contract with Frua by building the remaining fastback coupes in the contract with the BMW 1600 four and rear axle and suspension.  The revised car was called the BMW 1600GT and unlike its big V8 brother, featured the twin-kidney grille up front.  Just over 1,200 of these cars, like the gray coupe in the first three photos, were built through 1968.  BMW, perhaps influenced by their ongoing experience with the Karmann-bodied 2000CS, seemed leery about outsourcing bodywork.  Pietro Frua, realizing that his biggest production contract would end with the 1600GT, embarked on an effort to interest BMW in another design and production contract.  The first of these was his 3000GT fastback coupe in 1967...  
The car displayed similar proportions to Frua's design for the Monteverdi coupe which appeared in 1967.  That car was also a fastback and coincidentally, also a V8 (but a Chrysler).  The greenhouse, windshield rake, and angled tail on Frua's Glas BMW 3000GT prototype also recall Giugiaro's Maserati Ghibli first shown the previous year... 
Alas for Pietro Frua, BMW had already developed a competing product, the new 6 cylinder version of their Karmann-bodied coupe, which would go into production as the 2800CS during 1968.  After that year, BMW phased the Glas V8-engined 3000GT out of their product line. 
As a result, only one lucky driver collected the keys to a new 3000GT fastback and enjoyed this cockpit; the Frua show car remained a one-off...

But Frua kept trying to come up with the magic formula, in this case with his BMW 2000Ti from 1968.  This time he focused on the popular 2 liter Neue Klasse car with the injected inline four. The forms seem again to recall his work for Swiss maker Peter Monteverdi, who was also trying to launch a BMW-based GT as his "entry-level" (but still expensive) car.  For the BMW version, centered the twin-kidney grille in the shark-like maw of the Monteverdi.  That was the main change…. 
Though the wire wheels Frua substituted for the alloys on the Monteverdi seemed more related to his Maserati Mistral, and by 1968 seemed incongruous on a BMW.  Time for a clean sheet of paper...
With his 2002 GT4, Frua came much closer to a design that offered practical advantages over the 2002 which had put BMW on the map in the American market.  The first of two prototypes appeared in late 1969, the year after the first 2002.  The GT4 was a bit wider, longer and lower than that car, but offered the practicality of a large rear hatch.  The car shown above is the glassier of the two GT4s built in 1969-70, and honors the BMW Hoffmeister kink in the side window line.
The other GT4 shows the more usual Frua treatment of the glazing.  While BMW put a hatchback Touring version of the 2002 into production for 1971, the car's exterior was standard 2002, which means warmed-over first generation Corvair. Considering the American sales being notched up by the then-new Datsun 240Z, not to mention the aging MGB-GT, Frua's GT4 seems like a good idea that BMW allowed to slip away... 
Perhaps discouraged by this, Frua waited until 1975 to try again, this time with the 3.0Si Coupe Speciale.  The Karmann-bodied CS was in its last year in Europe, and here was an alternative in the prevailing sharp-edged wedge form, then at its peak popularity (with designers if not with the public).

Frua based his last BMW prototype on the newer 5 Series chassis in 1976; this was the 528GT. This time the approach could be described as a sports wagon, a body style then offered by few manufacturers, and a potential niche filler in the US, where only 2 passenger sports wagons (Volvo ES, MGB-GT) had been offered.  Lancia would fill try a 4 passenger sports wagon with its HPE, which appeared briefly in the US.  With BMW's dealer network and better reputation for reliability, this idea might have worked.

Pietro Frua died in 1983 after a long career of providing body designs and finished bodywork for some of Europe's best chassis.  It seems ironic that while finishing out the Glas contract for BMW seemed a large order to Frua (1,209 of the 1600GT, and 389 V8 3000GTs), the resulting cars were among the rarest postwar BMWs.  In chasing another elusive production order from the Munich firm, Frua made some of the most memorable prototypes of BMWs that never were.

The Z1 and its Alpina RLE variant were described in our previous post from 11-24-18, "Forgotten Classics: BMW Z1 and Alpina RLE", and in the post from April 24, 2016  entitled "The Car Search Part 2: The Fun Factor."  Other Frua designs are featured in "The Etceterini Files Part 1: Ermini" from December 7, 2015 and in "Concorso Italiano Overview" from August 31, 2018.  We'll feature other Frua designs in an upcoming post...

Photo Credits:

Top thru 3rd from top:  the author
4th:  uniquecarsandparts.com.au
5th thru 8th:  wikimedia
9th thru 11th: en.wheelsage.org
12th thru 14th:  bmw mobile tradition
15th: bmw concepts archive
16th:  automotorpad.com
17th:  wn.wheelsage.org
18th & 19th:  bmw concepts archive

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Forgotten Classics: BMW Z1 and Alpina RLE

This is the Alpina version of BMW's Z1* roadster, the 63rd of 66 Alpine-modified Z1s built.  Not much of a surprise, then, that it's mostly unknown.  The Z1 on which it was based, however, was produced in 8,000 examples from early 1989 through mid-1991.  The reason it's unknown in the USA is that it was never imported here.
The Alpina RLE version of the Z1 was powered by a 200 horsepower 2.7 liter inline six, an improvement of 32 hp over the 2.5 liter sohc six in the standard car.  Beyond that, the RLE has stiffer suspension, 17 inch wheels replacing standard 15 inchers, and in this case wheel arch extensions that didn't always appear on the Alpina verson.  Features unchanged from the standard car include the signature vertically-retracting doors, trim aerodynamic contours rendered in plastic with tight front and rear overhangs, and a flush underpan with contoured muffler and bumper air extractor aimed at increasing downforce.
In essence then, the strong points of the Alpina Z1 are the same ones of the basic Z1, which included a steel chassis with high structural side sills for impact protection (the reason for those drop-down doors), plastic body panels which BMW claimed could be removed in 40 minutes (actual elapsed time was a multiple of that), and a multi-link rear suspension, one of the first in a BMW, that appeared later on in the E36 Three Series.
It also shared the trim and tidy nose of the standard car (shown below) which was designed to induce downforce...

When BMW management decided to build it's first 2-seat roadster since the 507* in the mid-1980s, they formed a new engineering team called BMW Technik under the direction of Ulrich Bez; body design was in the hands of Dutch industrial designer Harm Lagaay.  The prototype was shown in late summer of 1987, and production began just over a year later.  Orthopedic, form-fitting seats were unusual for the period; these can be seen in the photo below. The windows retract automatically when the doors are lowered, and can be operated independently when the doors are up.  Unlike cars with swinging doors, the Z1 can be driven with doors open, but this is not legal in all countries or in the USA...
This BMW Technik team also studied a coupe version of the Z1 which failed to advance beyond the prototype stage. This seems a pity, as the overall form was more convincing than the coupe which was produced years later on the Z3 chassis…tidy, crisp and timeless, with only the fussiness of the headlights (here just sketched in) and tail lights as distractions...
The photo below shows the revised nose profile of the coupe, which approached the form of future BMW sedans more than it did the Z1 roadster.  The tiny door opening perhaps highlights a reason the coupe wasn't approved for production; at least on the roadster you could always lower the top for easier access.
Despite claimed advance orders for 35,000 cars, BMW was never able to produce more than 20 per day.  This, along with the initial price of 45,000 Euros, put a brake on delivery of completed cars.  Owing to the limited space behind the dash, the Z1 was never available with air conditioning, but driving down a winding road with the doors wide open and the wind in your hair, you'd probably never miss it.

Photo Credits:

Top thru 3rd from top:  the author
4th:  executive cars 
5th:  xehay.vn
6th:  flatout.com.br
7th & 8th:  bmw technik
9th & 10th:  wikimedia

Further notes on the BMW Z-1 can be found in the blog archives for April 24, 2016, in "The Car Search Part 2: The Fun Factor."  A sketch of the BMW 507 story can be found in the blog archives for May 1, 2016 under "Max Hoffman: An Eye for Cars and the Studebaker Porsche."

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Forgotten Classic Revival Show: ATS 2500GT and GTS

Back in the earlier part of this decade, an outfit called Torino Design, having purchased the rights to the Automobili Turismo e Sport name, inactive since the 1960s, announced a revival of the ATS 2500GT.  Like the largely-forgotten Italian GT from 1963, it was a tidy, compact mid-engined coupe with a 2.5 liter engine.  In case you've forgotten the original coupe design by Franco Scaglione*, here's one of the 5 survivors of 8 cars bodied by Allemano...

Unlike the original ATS 2500GT, which featured an overhead-cam V8 designed by Carlo Chiti, the revival featured a Cosworth-tuned Subaru boxer four.  In choosing a Subaru engine, Torino Design was following the footsteps of the OSCA Dromos* team from a dozen years earlier. The lines were uncluttered and devoid of gimmicks, with the exception of a central, rooftop air intake not unlike the one on the McLaren F1 coupe...

The car soon disappeared from view, however, and despite ambitious production plans, it apparently remained a one-off, not unlike the Subaru-engined Dromos.  Another ATS effort appeared at this past summer's Concorso Italiano, though.  By this time, the designers had added more supercar cliches, including scissor doors and some tortured shapes obscuring the window between the B and C pillars...

This time around the engine is a twin-turbocharged McLaren V8.  The projected price of the car, $850,000, seems to reflect a $570,000 surcharge over the price of a similarly-powerful McLaren 720s.  And while the fussy detailing on the New ATS fails to detract all that much from the sleek overall form, that form is not terribly distinctive when compared with the competition from McLaren, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

And if the extra exclusivity of the ATS name doesn't sell the car, it's hard to imagine that nostalgia for the original ATS will.  Recall that it was one of a bevy of makes (including Iso, Lamborghini, and Serenissima) launched by unhappy Ferrari customers, in this case Count Volpi di Misurata, who joined with two industrialists and a team of ex-Ferrari engineers including the aforementioned Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini, in 1962.  Their ambitious plan was to run a new Formula 1 team with a car of their own design, at the same time preparing a mid-engined GT for sale to the public...
They acquired the services of American Phil Hill, who had clinched the 1961 World Championship in the Ferrari 156 (another Chiti design) to drive the ATS 100 which appeared for the 1963 season, around the same time as the GT car.  Because this was the era of the 1.5 liter Formula 1, the new F1 engine shared few parts with the 2.5 liter GT.  Hill experienced power and reliability troubles with his new mount, shown above at Monza.

There were problems with chassis flex, too.  Eventually the engineers decided to weld a tubular cage around the engine to stiffen the whole assemblage.  It can be seen in the photo above, behind the unhappy Mr. Hill.  This made it impossible to remove the engine without cutting the tubular frame, and had the effect of making the mechanics as unhappy as Phil Hill.  The team had a season of unrelieved frustration.

Meanwhile, the 2500GT had appeared on the show circuit, and road testers liked the car's power and handling. The balance and responsiveness offered by the mid-engine configuration were then largely confined to racers...Rene Bonnet's mid-engined Djet was only just appearing as a limited-production road car.  ATS offered its 2500 in race trim (lighter bodywork, sliding windows rather than power ones) as the GTS, and by 1964 a couple of these appeared in the Targa Florio.
These made an impression with their trim looks and lusty sound, but succumbed to teething troubles before finishing.  The ATS operation itself succumbed to financial collapse hastened by the failed F1 effort in late 1964, but not before sending a 2500GT to GM's Styling VP Bill Mitchell, and making maybe a dozen chassis, of which 8 were bodied by Allemano, like this GTS driven by Giancarlo Baghetti in the '64 Targa.  It's hard to imagine building a modern brand marketing strategy around a name that was forgotten by the 1970s, even by car enthusiasts, and was then associated with nothing but trouble.  Then again, if music and clothing can be marketed around nostalgia for the disco era, perhaps anything can happen.

*Footnote:  A retrospective of Franco Scaglione's design work was featured in "Unsung Genius Franco Scaglione: The Arc of Success" for December 20, 2017.  For details on other Subaru-engined supercars, see the previous post, "OSCA Dromos and Jiotto Caspita: Subaru's Distant Cousins."

Photo Credits:
Top:  wikimedia
2nd:  Torino Design, reproduced on forums.nasioc.com
3rd:  The author.
4th:  wikimedia
5th:  primotipo.com
6th:  getty images, reproduced on primotipo.com
7th thru 9th:  targapedia.com