An executive vehicle, the Citroen DS was also called the ‘Goddess' or ‘Déesse' and was introduced by the French Manufacturer Citroen. Unveiled in 1955, the Citroen DS was produced until 1975. More than 1.5 million D-series were produced during its 20 year long production run. The D-series was incredibly futuristic and cutting-edge with an aerodynamic body design that was designed by Flaminio Bertoni. The DS featured intense roadholding, braking and handling, and hydropneumatic self-leving suspension system.
The DS 19 was introduced on October 5, 1955 at the Paris Motor Show following more than 18 years of covert development as the replacement to the Traction Avant. The DS 19 stunned the public with its appearance and avant-garde engineering and 743 orders were placed in the first 15 minutes, with the total amount of orders totaling 12,000 for the first day. The DS-19 ‘defied virtually every automotive design convention of that era', and was a symbol of French ingenuity.
Unfortunately the price was too high and this affected sales in a country that was still struggling following WWII 10 years earlier. A cheaper submodel, the ID, was unveiled in 1957, and shared the same body with the DS but came with more traditional features under the hood.
The Citroen DS managed to remain on top of its game and ahead of its time throughout its lifetime. Featuring such features as power disc brakes, variable ground clearance, hydropneumatic suspension that included an automatic leveling system, power steering and a semi-automatic transmission and a fiberglass roof that reduced weight transfer. Many other features were also included. Unfortunately the DS design was affected by the tax horsepower system which effectively mandated small engines. The Citroen DS had a very illustrious past on the motorsport circuit and won the Monte Carlo Rally in both 1959 and 1966. in 2005 the DS placed fifth on Automobile Magazine's '100 Coolest Cars' listing. The DS was also famous for being the first production vehicle to ever have front disc brakes.
In 1965 the DS 21 was launched with a 2175 cc, 5 main bearing engine. In 1970, Bosch electronic fuel injection was introduced and was a substantial increase of power to the engine. The DS was one of the first mass-market vehicles to use electronic fuel injection.
The DS 21 was a true luxury car that featured large, broad leather seats up front, along with plush seats in the back. The 21 was a front wheel drive, with no tunnel to accommodate the drive shaft, but the engine was mounted longitudinally and aft of the transmission. The weight distribution was excellent due to half-shafts extended out to the front wheels. With a European dashboard, the driver doesn't turn over the engine with a regular key, but by pushing the gear shift lever into a particular position towards the left. The exterior of the DS 21 was a work of art that featured flowing lines and aerodynamic body with smooth angles.
The 21 engine only had 4 cylinders, but it gave decent displacement and featured hemispherical combustion chambers that achieved more than adequate power. The entire vehicle operates off a master hydraulic system with a hydraulic pump located up front with the alternator. The high-pressure hydraulic power was available whenever the engine was running. There are no springs or torsion bars used to suspend the vehicle and each wheel featured an independently controlled hydraulic ‘shock' powered off the high-pressure system, which was basically self-leveling suspension.
Both the clutch and the gear change in the DS 21 were controlled by the master hydraulic system, and no clutch pedal was found on the floor. The clutch was engaged by accelerating the engine.
Staying quite popular in the public's eye, the DS peaked in 1970 before being surpassed by the more modern, wider SM. In 1976 the Citroen DM was finally phased out after a production run of 1,455,746 units being produced and was replaced in the model range by the CX.
DS models were constructed in Paris, France, the UK, former Yugoslavia, Australia and South Africa. Today DS sedans are still used mainstream as taxicabs in various parts of the former Yugoslavia. DS's were sold in the U.S. from 1956 through 1972 with a total of 38,000 units being sold.By Jessica Donaldson