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1955 Citroen DS : Classic Cars

The 1955-1975 Citroën DS 19/20/21/23 was a futuristic design from the French pioneer of front-wheel drive, and was still quite advanced next to most competitors when it was replaced 20 years later by the long-running CX series. This was the mainstay of the Citroën line for many years, and the "Goddess" was the first car reflecting the firm's interest and expertise in the art of aerodynamics.

The model’s monocoque body/chassis featured fully detachable skin panels; the car could even be driven in "skeleton" form. The DS also introduced Citroën's unique hydraulic (actually gas/oil) all-independent suspension system run from an engine-driven pump that also provided assistance for steering and brakes. The suspension incorporated a variable height adjustment that could be used for clearing road hazards, fording streams, or even jacking up the car when changing a flat. (U.S. advertising touted this as the only car you could ride going up and down.)

The low-drag body put the wheels at the "corners" of the car, resulting in a spacious interior. Model designations reflect engine size. Through 1966, the DS used Citroën's ancient four-cylinder engine, but this was replaced by a more modern design in later models.

A confusing succession of tuning and equipment changes marked this series through the years, but while it sold fairly well in Europe, the DS was never a high-volume item in the U.S. Most of the ones sold here were four-door sedans, but an even longer wagon was also sold in modest numbers.

The hydraulic suspension gave a cloud-like ride that made the DS unmatched in this area by almost any other car, although certain surface irregularities would upset the car strangely. Leech-like roadholding was another virtue, but the performance wasn't. The engines were considered under-powered for really brisk standing-start acceleration, although top speed was high, a benefit of the slippery body.

The 1955-1975 Citroën DS 19/20/21/23 was not the sort of car that stood up well to American driving conditions and owner habits, but is a fairly rare and distinctive collectible with the advantage that the long production should make parts easier to come by. The lesser-priced ID models are also worthy of consideration.

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Sources : 1955 Citroen DS Photo | 1955 Citroen DS Article


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