Sunday, 4 November 2012

Instrumentalism #02: Sierra "Graphic Information Module"

My Dad had a Sierra, but not just any old sales-reps motorway battle wagon, but a Sierra Ghia. As you all know, Ghia was a famous Italian styling house who's somewhat devalued name came to become synonymous with those Ford cars at the top end of the catalogue that were festooned with baubles 'n trinkets. In 1982, having a Ghia crest on your car meant you were practically nobility. Or something.

Class distinctions aside, the Sierra Ghia was certainly not light on gewgaws, and Ford was quite proud of their Graphic Information Module that sat squarely in the centre of the dashboard furniture where those in the back seats could gaze in wonderment at its warm green display. This portrayed a birds-eye view of an actual Sierra, with diagramatic representations of open doors or tailgate, defective light bulbs and two stages of temperature warning denoted by a green or red snowflake dramatically lit in the very middle of the display.

It was flanked by a digital / analogue alarm clock / timer of some complexity (and causing noteable battery drain) and positioned below a strip of warning lamps. These were presented as a neutral density panel so you couldn't see the lamps until they lit up. I often thought that this design flourish was something that Ford really didn't have to do, and that there's a designer out there somebody who's really proud of himself. So he should be.

In 1982 nobody else in Europe had anything like a Graphic Information Module; chief rival the Vauxhall Cavalier certainly didn't. This was important. My friends Dads had Cavaliers. Mine had a Sierra Ghia. Nobility, as I said.

Intro photo stolen from a Flickr album by VAGDave. Thanks.
Brochure photo above taken by me, in poor lighting, with a poor camera, poorly.