Unique Citroen DS marks 60th anniversary during 2015

The Citroen DS19 was introduced to the public in 1955 | Citroen
The Citroen DS19 was introduced to the public in 1955 | Citroen

The Citroen DS was an odd duck on American roads during the 1950s and ’60s, with its defiantly futuristic aerodynamic styling, then-rare front-wheel drive and floating hydropneumatic suspension. So odd, so French.

But not in Europe, and especially France, where the lush sedan was considered a revolutionary expression of engineering brilliance.

Most automobiles of the day were rear-wheel drive with simple spring suspensions and bodies that were more style than function. But the DS pushed the envelope with advanced aerodynamics, front-wheel drive, the exotic self-leveling suspension, semi-automatic gearbox and lightweight fiberglass roof that lowered the center of gravity. It was also the world’s first production car with power disc brakes.

Space-age turn signals were in the upper corners of the rear window | Citroen
Space-age turn signals were  set along the roof line | Citroen

Following on the heels of the similarly iconoclastic Traction Avant, the DS19 was introduced at the 1955 Paris Motor Show to a combination of shock and awe. It was an immediate hit, with no fewer than 12,000 orders taken by Citroen for the avant-garde sedan by the end of the show.

Collectors today enjoy the unique style, created by Italian designer Flaminio Bertoni and French aeronautical engineer André Lefèbvre, and the exceptional ride quality provided by the hydropneumatic suspension of the DS19, and later DS21 and DS23. In Paris, vintage DS models are often seen on the road, adding to the allure of the City of Lights.

DS drivers know, however, that power is somewhat lacking due to one old-fashioned element of the car: its small, unremarkable four-cylinder engine.

The DS21 featured even more advanced features | Citroen
The DS21 featured even more advanced features | Citroen

During 2015, Citroen celebrates the 60th anniversary of the DS – a pun for déesse, the French word for goddess – with the first official birthday party being held at the inaugural London Classic Car Show from January 8-11 in the city’s Docklands. The new show will feature an array of DS history, including the Safari station-wagon and the rare, collectible décapotable, or two-door convertible.

Organized by the British company Brand Events, the London Classic Car Show is expected to be a live-action affair with special classic cars driven on The Grand Avenue, a runway concept through the heart of the show, and engine fire-ups that will treat spectators to the raucous sounds of vintage engines, including Ferrari V12s, Jaguar performance sixes and the thunderous V8s of American muscle cars.

Citroen also is celebrating a modern-day resurrection of DS with the announcement this past June that the company would be separated into two distinct brands: Citroen and DS. The aim is to lift DS in the ranks of premium automakers, as it was during the days when the DS was the most-exceptional luxury car of France.

6 thoughts on “Unique Citroen DS marks 60th anniversary during 2015”

  1. I remember them vary well. In 1972, I had the good fortune of going to Cannes and being chauffeured in a Citreon and always remembered how comfortable the car rode and all the room inside.

  2. Had a ds21 , red in colour year of 68 and relisted as 69. Best and most novel car I ever had. Had it for 5 years and got rid of it because citroen withdrew from the Canadian market and parts were getting scarce and expensive. I often think of that car as ‘one that got away’.

  3. There was a French movie of the mid 60’s.. Fantomas in which a DS sprouts wings and flies into the blue skies. Does anyone remembers this?
    These are wonderful cars.

  4. Baltimore City only had one “foreign” car dealer in 1955, Jack Spry on Cathedral Street. One day my father was driving me to swimming lessons at the downtown Y and we passed the showroom. I persuaded my father to stop so we could go in and look at the most amazing looking car I’d ever seen, the DS. I remember that day 61 years later!!

    This past May my wife and I were in a taxi crossing Paris and there was a gathering of DSs and I wanted to stop and look at them but my wife was a tougher sell than my father (who was a car buff, too).

    Amazing car, truly amazing.

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