The Goddess of classic cars
The Citroen DS was long awaited. It was the replacement for the much loved Traction Avant, first produced in 1934 and one of the most advanced cars of its time. The retro sci-fi styling was by Flaminio Bertoni, an Italian craftsman, painter, sculptor and architect who set up Citroën’s first design studio soon after he arrived in Paris in 1931. Bertoni was also responsible for the Citroen’s 2CV in 1948 which was still made in the same Paris factory 42 years later. Another of his designs was the corrugated HY van which enjoyed a 33 year run of production on sale between 1947 and 1981.
The Citroen DS was elegant yet unconventional with original looks, avant-garde interior design, hydropneumatic suspension and hydraulic assistance. There really wasn’t anything else like it.
Debuting at the Pars Motor Show in June 1955 it gains 750 sales in 45 minutes, 12,000 in just one day and almost 80,000 by the end of the show.
|Years Produced||1955 - 1975|
|Performance||0 - 60mph 22sec / Top Speed - 88mph|
|Power & Torque||75bhp / 101Ib ft|
|Engine||1911cc / four cylinder / 8 valves|
|Drive-train||Front engine FWD|
|Transmission||Four speed manual|
A BUYERS GUIDE
Here are some tips on what to look for when searching for a Citroen DS.
- The DS outer panels are cosmetic; it’s the main structure that matters, although you really want to check all panels for rust of course. The most important parts structurally are the side rails, check them from underneath for signs of corrosion as this could mean major repair work. Open the boot to see if there is any corrosion in the floor, as well as the rear wing gutters. Once removed, you can check suspension cylinder brackets and the rear section of the inner wings for corrosion. It’s worth looking through the car’s history to see the standard of remedial work previously completed. Bonnets are durable as they are aluminium, door bottoms however can rust horrendously, as do front and rear wings. An upside is that the roof won’t rust, as it’s made from fibreglass.
- With reliable four cylinder engines and a less powerful 1911cc, the engine is said to be the sweetest and good for at least 150,000 miles before any problems. Any engine faults tend to be top end, with bottom end work rarely required.
- Check for the correct level of anti freeze, to avoid cracks in the alloy head between the combustion chambers. If the timing chain is noisy it’s an engine-out job to fit a new chain and tensioner.
- Gear change seems complex, but are reliable if set up correctly. There’s a clutch operating cylinder, centrifugal regulator, clutch re-engagement control, gear brain and gear selection cylinders.
- The hydro-pneumatic suspension and braking system are bomb proof providing they are well maintained. Corroded pipe work is a common problem, and leaks usually occur by the nearside wheel arch. The only real solution is a new set of pipes at around £300 for the main loom which is the most likely culprit.
- The DS was the first production car with all-round disc brakes, although changing them is a 12 hour job as even pads takes 2 hours. These should be Ferodo, as cheap pads can prematurely wear the discs. Upholstery is hard-wearing and the top of the back seats can deteriorate from being in the sun.
Nylon was used in the earliest Citroen DS models radiator fan and dashboards, nylon being a new material in 1955.
Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance) says
“The Citroen DS truly is truly iconic, with engineering features ahead of its time and truly astonishing design inside and out with its spaceship looks and avant-garde interior a true icon and rightfully so.”