Coachbuilder Bertone traveled to the 1972 edition of the Geneva Motor Show to display the GS Camargue, a one-off 2+2 coupe based on the recently-introduced Citroën GS. Named after a touristic region in the south of France, the Camargue was tentatively aimed at a young, well-heeled and trend-conscious target audience.
The coupe’s body was penned by Marcello Gandini, a well-known designer whose name is associated with an eclectic selection of cars including the Alfa Romeo Montreal, the Lamborghini Miura, the Fiat X1/9, the Renault Super 5, the Audi 50 and the Citroën BX. Stretching 162 inches (412 centimeters) long, 66 inches (168 centimeters) wide and just 45 inches (115 centimeters) tall, the wedge-shaped Camargue was characterized by crisp, clean lines, a large yellow-tinted hatch made of glass and a clamshell hood hinged at the base of each A-pillar.
Bertone was a little less creative with the interior, and the Camargue’s dashboard was lifted straight from the GS parts bin. The coupe was equipped with two individual seats up front and a two-person bench seat out back, creating an atmosphere that was reminiscent of more expensive touring cars.
The Camargue rode on an unmodified GS platform and it was powered by a stock GS-sourced 1,015cc air-cooled flat-four that developed 55-horsepower at 6,500 rpms and 52 lb-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpms. Power was sent to the front wheels via a four-speed manual transmission, and the GS’ brilliant height-adjustable hydraulic suspension was carried over untouched.
On paper, these were respectable figures for the early 1970s but the GS was particularly heavy and notorious for being underpowered. Bertone never published the Camargue’s performance specifications but it’s hard to imagine it would have been considerably faster than the already aerodynamic GS.
The Camargue could have easily been billed as a smaller and cheaper alternative to the Maserati-powered SM but Citroën was headed for a financial disaster – it was merged with Peugeot in 1976 as a last-ditch effort to stay afloat – so it had no interest in producing another low-volume niche model. The Camargue remained a one-off show car, though the name was dusted off by Rolls-Royce several years later.
Looking back at the Camargue, many historians have pointed out the car’s front end styling accurately previewed the design language that Citroën gradually adopted over the course of the 1980s.
In our display case
France’s Majorette took a liking to the GS Camargue and it built several versions of it in 1/55-scale over the course of the 1970s. Available in red, blue, orange or, inexplicably, white with green Holiday Inn decals, it featured an opening rear hatch and a functional suspension.