Motoring Trailblazers - Lancia Megagamma

Sun 7th Oct 2018

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Lancia Megagamma
The original MPV,  the Megagamma was actually inspired by a project from the Museum of Modern Art. MOMO invited car designers to come up with a more economic and ergonomic for the famous New York Taxicab. Though it was actually Alfa Romeo who produced the original tall and boxy design, known as a monospace, it was Lancia who almost took it into production two years later… almost.

The Megagamma was debuted at the Turin Auto Show in 1978 and received, mixed reviews. Perhaps if another car brand had brought it to Turin there would have been a different response, but this was a motor public which expected much more from Lancia, they expected to see a sports car. What did they get? Well, one of the less kind reviews described it as a car designed for plumbers. The critics did not get it, neither did the public, was it a van, an estate wagon?

A flat floor? Upright interior design? People could not get their heads around what looked ugly and ill conceived.

But the Italdesign Guigiaro studio were about more than flashy sports cars, Giorgetto Guigiaro was an industrialist at heart and wanted to produce a vehicle which worked for both the people who built it and most importantly the passengers who would travel within it. This was a car designed to meet the needs of families and commuters, the everyday car.

Though it was panned by the motoring press, the executives from the motor companies took note and appreciated the simplicity of its form and while Lancia’s parent company Fiat took a pass on sending the Megagamma into production, others took the risk, most notably the Japanese companies who had long worshipped at the helm of Italdesign.

The first MPVs to come out of the Far East were the Nissan Prairie and Mitsubishi Chariot. Europe would have to wait six full years before feeling the benefit of the Megagamma, when Renault produced their hugely influential and market leading Espace.