ITALY: Ghia chief retires, studio restructure triggers job losses

By just-auto.com editorial team | 26 March 2001

Filippo Sapino, managing director of Ghia, is retiring on April 1 after 32 years with Ford as his studio is restructured with a 95 percent cut in jobs.

Ford will restructure Ghia from a traditional Italian coachbuilder to an electronic concept studio, patterned after Volvo's Barcelona, Spain and Camarillo, California studios.

The restructuring results in a 95 percent chop in staff, as Ford adjusts "the skill mix needed to operate an electronic studio versus a full-service coachbuilder" and updates the facility and equipment.

The new studio will have five design staff working completely on the computer and will be charged with the development of new vehicle proposals, concept vehicles, and high-series trim levels for the European vehicle range.

The designers will also have to learn about customers in their region and design vehicles to suit.

Ghia's design proposals will be created and refined completely on the computer and then through data transfer to one of the Ford studios – Dunton, England or Cologne, Germany – a hard model will be milled for review and verification. This will help streamline the design process reducing vehicle development time and cost.

Ghia will remain in its current location in Turin, Italy until the expiry of the lease in 2002. The computing equipment in the current studio will be upgraded to meet the requirements of an electronic studio.

Despite wielding a large axe, Ford says it "continues to value the Ghia brand name and rich heritage and will continue to honour and preserve it for the future through the continued development of exciting new designs".

Sapino, 60, joined Ghia in 1959 and spent nearly his entire career there, with the exception of a few years in the 1960s when he left to gain further experience at Pininfarina, where he contributed to the design of the Ferrari 512S, the Ferrari GTC 365/4.

He joined Ford in 1959 as a design manager in the Bruino, Italy design studio. When his firm acquired Ghia in 1973 and combined the two studios, Sapino was appointed chief designer and has been managing director since 1976.

In recent years, under Sapino's direction, the studio has developed several concepts including the Ghia Focus, Lagonda Vignale, and StreetKa.

Sapino remaina on the Ghia board of directors.

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