The Most Iconic French Car of All Time
The Citroen DS is a very important car in the Automotive world. When this car was released, it was considered revolutionary and so it should! The name 'DS' comes from the French word 'déesse' meaning goddess which sounds a lot like DS. I think that's a beautiful thing. This clearly worked if it was a marketing technique as Citroen sold a total of 1,455,746 of these things from 1955 to 1975. 1,330,755 were sold in France alone! The French really did admire this car. Citroen labelled the DS as an executive car. It was a front engined FWD layout and had 90 bhp at the beginning with the later models sporting around 124 bhp. With this the DS was successful in the 1959 and 1966 Monte Carlo rally where it won both times.
The design was and still is a very iconic shape. As you can see it's a very flowing design making it rather sleek. We have Flaminoio Bertoni to thank for this. He worked very closely with Citroen for many years but is also the man responsible for designing the 2CV...(what happened there!) Apart from this iconic design, Citroen added pivoting headlights which would follow the road, hydraulic suspension (allowing for a much smoother ride), and a single spoke steering wheel. Despite all this the DS only weighed 1,270kg.
The dashboard is very unusual. As you can see, behind the steering wheel there is the speedometer as expected but also a clock and various knobs. Not only that, but it appears that the passenger has full control over the radio. Perhaps this is where Ferrari's passenger displays idea came from. I really like how the interior colours carry on to the stem of the steering wheel, thats a neat feature. To me, this looks like those concept cars which never go into production like the Mercedes Benz F200 but the fact that Citroen produced the DS on a very large scale is phenomenal.
Not only was the Citroen DS a stunning car to look at but it saved a life. When the French president Charles De Gaulle was leaving a meeting in Algeria he was shot at. He was in a DS. The rear glass of the car shattered from the gunshots and 3 of the tyres were shot. Normally, a car would completely spin out of control, not the Citroen. Due to the excellent hydraulic suspension the car was able to level itself again and continue driving despite only having one tyre intact. After this, the president refused to travel in any other car. This just shows you the power of innovative design and the arguable French precision.
Due to the great success of the Citroen DS, more versions came out. This included the Pallas (a luxury upgrade which offered more exquisite materials), stationwagon, a convertible and a chapron variant.
But after this, some individuals got their hands on the design. These were the Bossaert Coupe which looks a lot like the convertible, the Reactor which was a questionable concept and the Michelin PLR which was a 10 wheeled DS which was a mobile tyre evaluation machine (used as a promotional piece).
In 1999 the Citroen DS was named the most beautiful car of all time by Classic and Sports car magazine. I for one couldn't agree more. In 1973 Citroen 'replaced' the DS with the SM and the production of this only lasted around 5 years compared to the mighty 20 years of production. Nothing will come close to the success of this car from Citroen nowadays, they're cars just aren't the same.