1970 Citroen DS 21 sedan
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.
Pluses of the 1955-1975 Citroën DS 19/20/21/23:
- Unique design in all respects
- Ride and handling still up to current standards
- Parts still available from overseas
- Budget buy
- High appreciation potential
- 1955-64 DS and ID 19 are Milestone cars
- Mechanically complex, so expect restoration and maintenance headaches
- Disappointing acceleration
- Strange dash and minor control layout
- Brakes demand driver practice
Production of the 1955-1975 Citroën DS
1,456,115 of all types
Specifications of the 1955-1975 Citroën DS 19/20/21/23:
Wheelbase, inches: 123.0
Length, inches: 190.5/198.0 (sedan/wagon)
Weight, pounds: 2,690-3,100
Price, new: NA
Engines for the 1955-1975 Citroën DS 19/20/21/23:
Type Size Horsepower Years ohv 14 1,911 cc (117 cid) 60 1955-1966 ohv 14 1,985 cc (121 cid) 103 1966-1975 ohv 14 2,175 cc (133 cid) 115 1968-1975 ohv 14 2,347 cc (143 cid) 125 1971-1975
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