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down a storm, and a selection of fans even started up the 'Barcheta Club', with members totalling 10,000 at one point.

Urfortunately though the Barchetta didn't convince enough of Ford's decision makers that it was worthy of European production, so it remained a concept.

it did however go on to influence the Mazda Miata 2 '(which was built in 1989 when Ford and Mazda joined forces) and perhaps more directly its looks heavily influenced the Mercury Capri XR2 which was sold in the Australian market.

In typical Ford style though it was too late to make any real impact, as the Mazda MX5 was released in the early '90s and dominated that market for years to come.

When Ford decided they wanted to show the world what the small, two-seater sports car of the future would look like in the early '80s, they turned to the then-new, and very capable, Fiesta XR2 as a base for the Barchetta concept car.

too. On the outside though, it looted completely different. The swooping front lines, wedge shaped front and rear lights, abrupt rear end design, and air vents behind the front wheels were all down to Ghia's metal-forming talents and all help to disguise the

The Barchetta's design mey \ have been influenced by the cars of the 1950s but the final shape can be recognised in the \ Capri of the mid-'90s that went j on sale in Australia. Tlie concept car was designed and ; built to prove a point to Ford's i big-wigs - that they could take an existing platform and create a completely different car from it, that is aimed at an entirely different audience.

The Barchetta'was basecfon the hugely successful Mk2 Fiesta XR2, and as such v teatured the same 96bhp CVH engine, five-speed gearbox, and suspension set up as the sporty hol-hatch. It even wears the iconic XR2 'Pepperpot' alloys front-wheel drive layout.

The Barchetta was initially an internal demonstration vehicle to show the profitability of using the same basic platform for numerous different models, but was actually shown to the public in 1983. It went

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