The first car designed entirely by a woman

Nowadays, it is difficult to know the gender of the designers of many modern cars. It is not uncommon for those who are surprised to learn that the exotic sports car Honda NSX was styled, designed by a woman, while the family multiven Honda Odyssey was taken care of by a man. However, until the early 1980s, men were the main speakers.

Some manufacturers, such as General Motors, for example, also had a women's department, but it was mainly concerned with the choice of colors and materials. Everything will change the moment the famous Italian design house Ghia decides to entrust the job of styling the new Ford prototype model to Marileni Corvasce, who will become the first woman to design the entire car from start to finish.

In the early 1980s, one of the most desirable new cars in America was the Pontiac Fiero. The small two-seater with a centrally placed engine attracted a large number of customers, and all that Ford could offer in a similar category was the EXP model.
Although the EXP was of similar dimensions, it shared a base with a cheap Escort and provided front-wheel drive with a front-mounted engine. No one was surprised that Fier's sales were far higher, so Ford decided to do something about it. Several EXP chassis were sent to Italy where the Ghia, which was otherwise owned by Ford at the time, had to develop a prototype model with series production in mind.

Ghia was then led by a man named Filippo Sapino and thought that Corvasce with her fourteen years of experience in an Italian firm would be the ideal person for the job. Unlike many square cars from that period, Marilena presented drawings with aerodynamic lines and a great deal of practicality. This move was obviously liked by Ford, so the development went without major problems.

The end result did not look at all like the EXP on which it was based. The aerodynamic style resulted in air resistance reflected in the coefficient of only 0.30, which was on a par with the leaders at the time, such as the Audi 100 and Nissan 300ZX. Ghia also chose the Brezza (“Wind”) label for the same reason.

The chassis also underwent major changes to accommodate Ford's 1.6-liter engine. It developed an identical 80 horsepower which it transmitted to the wheels via a three-speed automatic transmission. This was followed by the premiere at the Turin Motor Show in 1982, where Brezza attracted a lot of attention.
By then, however, Ford had completely “cooled off” from the idea of producing an EXP-based model and decided that Fier’s rival must own a larger unit. The Americans even contacted the famous Japanese house Yamaha, with a request to develop a completely new six-cylinder unit, and it would not be a good combination with the aforementioned EXP platform, without the need for major modifications.

It also meant that Brezza is not entering serial production, but many design lines have been used in the development of the future Probe model. Ford fans never waited to see rival Fiero since the project was shut down in the mid-1980s and Yamaha engines were used for the new Ford Taurus SHO.

Marilena Corvasce will continue to design models for Ghia until the late 1990s, that is, until a little over twenty years ago. Brezza changed owners several times, and today it is in private hands.

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