Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – 1977 Ghia Megastar

Driven to Write’s chevron-shaped codex gains a new entry.

Megastar I (c)

It’s possible to argue that by 1976 the world of car design had attained peak-wedge, exemplified by William Towns’ startling Aston Martin Lagonda. The projectile-shaped luxury saloon so defined the dart theme, there was really nowhere else it could be taken, not that this prevented the likes of Marcello Gandini and others within the design community from trying. However, as evidenced by subsequent efforts, the returns were rapidly diminishing.

But while change was in the offing, the 1977 Geneva motor show was business as usual, with Ford-owned carrozzeria Ghia displaying a striking wedge-shaped saloon, dubbed Megastar. Created to explore ideas around form language for a new generation of more aerodynamic, fuel efficient sedans, Megastar married a two-volume, pronounced wedge silhouette with distinctively generous side glazing, pronounced graphics and a sharply truncated rear.

Beneath the low, penetrating nose sat the running gear from a contemporary Ford Granada, which must have been something of a packaging miracle in itself. But it was treatment of the concept’s centre section which elicited the most startled gasps from the assembled throngs.

Megastar’s DLO was also wedge shaped, but in voluptuously rounded fashion, which provided a vast glazed area, accentuated by a contrasting body-coloured band which encircled it. By remarkable prescience, the manner in which the DLO rose sharply towards the C-pillar and encapsulated the rear extractor vent could be seen as a template for every modern-day two-volume hatchback.

A sympathetic feature line running parallel from the leading edge of the roof to sill level, harmonised with the DLO and (latterly) finished in the same contrasting shade served to de-accentuate the bulk of the body-side at the rear three quarters. There are reflections here too of Pininfarina’s 1971 RO80 concept, especially in the side-graphic treatments.

While opinion was divided over the merits of the design, it certainly created no shortage of discussion, but meanwhile on the Porsche stand, the death knell to the wedge was making its production debut. Zuffenhausen’s 928, with its soft, rounded forms and clean, almost pebble-like shape would prefigure the future.

But Ghia’s Fillipo Sapino wasn’t swayed, preparing a second Megastar concept the following year. Megastar II was a shorter car, based on Taunus/Cortina running gear and a two door fastback outline. Reprising the unusual rounded wedge-shaped side graphic, it came with a more production-focused and somewhat half-hearted aesthetic.

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Resembling what to contemporary eyes could be best described as something of a cross between a Renault Fuego (nose) and a Citroën AX (tail), the one thing Megastar II cannot be accused of is lacking influence. But for both it and its forebear their stylistic stars were in the descendant and within two years, both Ghia and their Köln-Merkenich masters had arrived at a decisive and significantly altered form language.

From a CTCHBC perspective, it’s perhaps debatable how much either car would have been worthy of Quai de Javel’s chevrons – although it’s entirely possible to build a case for Megastar I, with a little tweakage, becoming a convincing alternative to Bertone’s successful BX design theme. As it stands, one is left wondering if Citroën’s Geoff Matthews didn’t take some inspiration from Ghia’s concept for the 1986 Eole?

(c) the petrol stop

Meanwhile at Turin, Sapino hadn’t quite got the homages to Quai de Javel or Vélizy entirely out of his system, as evidenced by his studio’s 1983 effort. But that’s another story.

More cars that could have been Citroëns.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

10 thoughts on “Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – 1977 Ghia Megastar”

  1. Good morning, Eóin. The Megastar is a really nicely resolved design and disguises it’s bulk very well. It appears to have a hugely spacious passenger cabin. I particularly like the rear three-quarter view with its giant size Granada Mk2 style tail lights (a nod to it’s donor car?) The more production friendly Megastar II is a disappointment by comparison. I wonder if it might be possible to productionise the original with today’s technology, ideally with an EV powertrain?

    Oh, I have to ask, what’s CTCHBC?

  2. CTCHBC? Cars That Could Have Been Citroens. Of course….

    Cracking acronym, wouldn’t you agree?

  3. Thanks for that. New to me, I must admit. The Megastar looks to be clearly an intermediary. There are elements from the existing aesthetic of sharp lines and flat surfaces and then big, round curves jammed over it all. You could not call it consistent. I won´t criticise it for that- it´s job was to find the way, to find another way. Despite the contrast of flat/angular with curved/rounded, it works quite well. The rear has some formal innovations in the extension of the bumper. The undercut on the rear screen is good too. Without a doubt, postcards and pin-ups of this car were on mood boards around Europe for a few years after that. And that is the value of pure research. Seek and you will find….something.

  4. I would also mention the Austin Princess – I can see strong similarities with the Megastar II around the centre section and DLO. The Princess was a brave shape for a volume producer to launch in 1975.

    1. Yes – I thought of the Princess for the Megastar II version – the Princess’s design was pretty much set by 1970. It also reminds me of the Triumph SD2.

    2. I was also thinking Austin Princess for the Megastar II. It’s a very early 70s shape – like Raleigh Chopper bikes and that Ogle Design 3 wheeler.

      Thinking about CTCHBCs, the Princess fits quite well, what with its Hydrogas suspension and the fact that its predecessor could have been that much loved and discussed concept by Pininfarina.

    1. The roots of the BX go down deep and far, don´t they. There is also the Bertone Tundra. In the Reliant I see the C-pillar treatment as being suggestive of the eventual BX. Gandini and the other Italians didn´t mind re-using ideas. Was this deliberate? Sometimes it might not have been – often it must have been very clear.

    2. This really looks as if Gandini has sold the same design twice. It’s not only the C-pillar… The wheelarches are pure NX, too. And the front indicators that are slightly lower than the headlights. Stance and proportions are clearly different, though. This one looks far more RWD than the BX.

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