Andre Citroen founded the Citroen Company in 1919 and by the late 1920s it had become Europe's largest car manufacturer. They earned a reputation for their build quality, revolutionary engineering, and innovation. The Citroen Traction Avant of the mid-1930s pioneered mass production, unitary body construction with no separate chassis, front-wheel drive, and a four-wheel independent suspension setup.
The new DS 19 was introduced in 1955 at the Paris Auto Salon. The cars popularity was immediate with over 80,000 cars being ordered before the show came to an end. They had a 1911cc engine with a 3 bearing crankshaft, hydraulic brake system, and a high-pressure oil-filled self-leveling suspension. They were aerodynamically efficient with a low-drag body and a front-engine, front-wheel drive setup. They were also the first production car equipped with disc brakes.
The DS would be a competitive and popular vehicle during its production lifespan, with its peak production year being 1970. It was built from 1955 through 1975 with a total of 1,455,746 examples being built worldwide. It was sold in North America from 1956 to 1972, however it didn't experience the same popularity in the United States as it did in France. Sales were slightly better in Canada. Slower sales in the U.S. are often attributed to its lack of an automatic transmission, no power windows, no air conditioning, and an underwhelming engine. Another drawback was the price and the lack of supplies and parts for the vehicle in the U.S. Approximately 38,000 units were sold in the North American market during the years it was offered.
The hydropneumatic suspension was developed in Citroen's Paul Mages. It included an automatic leveling and variable ground clearance system that allowed the DS to travel quickly on multiple road surfaces and in various road conditions. The Citroen DS was also equipped with power steering, inboard front brakes, and a semi-automatic transmission which required no clutch pedal, although the gears still had to be shifted by hand. The shift lever controlled a powered hydraulic shift mechanism. The roof was made of fiberglass.
French cars were affected by the tax horsepower system, which effectively kept the engines rather small. Despite this, the DS was rather successful in motorsports. Their reliability and ability to traverse poor road surfaces helped them win the Monte Carlo Rally in 1959. In 1962, Pauli Toivonen drove a DS19 to victory in the 1000 Lakes Rally. A DS won the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally again, after the BMC Mini-Cooper team was disqualified due to rule infractions. In 1974, a DS won over 70 other cars in the London-Sahara-Munich World Cup Rally. Just 5 vehicles were able to finish the event.
The DS19 would continue to be built in its original guise until 1965. The four-door saloon was the work of Italian industrial designer and sculptor Flaminio Bertoni and French aeronautical engineer Andre Lefebvre. In 1960, a new convertible model was introduced called the 'Cabriolet de Serie', more commonly known as 'Cabriolet d'Usine'. Its coachwork was the work of Henri Chapron for the Citroen dealer network. Mostly due to their expensive price tag, just 1,365 examples were sold. They received the same engine and chassis arrangement as the saloon, but required a special frame that was reinforced with side-members and a stronger rear suspension setup. Chapron also created other exclusive body styles on the DS platform, such as the Le Caddy and Le Dandy. Chapron also built the two-door Concorde Coupe with just 38 of these cars eventually being built. The Citroen Company offered their own high-end models, such as the Pallas and the Prestige.
In 1958, a station wagon version was introduced. It had a steel roof allowing a roof rack to be installed. The standard Break (as it was known in France) had two side-facing seats in the cargo area at the back. The Familiales had a rear seat positioned farther back in the cabin, with three folding seats between the front and rear squabs. The DS Pallas, named after the Greek goddess, was introduced in 1965 as a luxury upgrade. It was given optional leather upholstery, addition trim, and better noise insulation. Hector Bossaert offer a coupe version on a shortened DS chassis from 1959 through 1964. The front design remained unchanged but the back was given notchback styling.
The DS 21 was built between 1965 and 1972, before being superseded in 1973 by the DS 23. The DS 21 was powered by an enlarged 2175cc 109 horsepower engine. The Citroen factory offered a variety of body options for the DS 21, including a 2-door convertible, an estate car called the Safari, the luxury 'Pallas' model and a 4-door saloon. Henri Chapron also offered his own versions using the DS 21.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2018
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