Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Introduction to the 1955-1975 Citroen DS and ID

The first Citroen DS19 production convertibles were built by Henri Chapron's coachbuilding firm in the late 1960. See more classic car pictures.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The Paris and U.S. introduction to the 1955-1975 Citroen DS and ID caused quite a stir. The following pages profile these two Citroen models over a twenty-year period.

Classic Cars Image Gallery

When the DS-Series bowed at Paris in 1955, it caused a sensation. It was aerodynamic -- some said strange-looking -- and boasted the "Citro-Matic" oleopneumatic hydraulic system for suspension, steering, brakes, clutch, and gearchange.

Citroen's D-Series bowed at the Paris Salon in October 1955, and promptly caused a sensation. Even now it would be difficult to imagine a new model that could provoke as much comment on its public unveiling.

Here in one car were more technical surprises than anything since the late, controversial Tucker -- and as much hype, too. It was almost something from another world, as if alien designers had looked at Earth's motor cars, found them wanting, and decided to demonstrate their ideas of what a truly modem automobile should be.

The D-Series made its U.S. debut the following spring at the International Automobile Show in the New York Coliseum, creating much the same excited reaction. A press release proclaimed it "the dream car of tomorrow, on the road today," and it was promoted to Americans as the first "American-type automatic car to be produced in Europe."

Despite the technical advances, it was the functional styling and unusual proportions that initially grabbed everyone's attention. Car Life's Jim Whipple called the D-Series "ten years ahead of its time," commenting that it possessed "a marked resemblance to the sketches of dream cars." From Auto Age's vantage point, however, the new Citroen was "Studebaker-ish in appearance." For many others, it was simply a love-it or hate-it design.

Robert Opron, chief of the Citroen styling bureau, created five renderings (one seen here) for an evolutionary redesign of the D-Series.
Robert Opron, chief of the Citroen styling bureau, created five renderings (one seen here) for an evolutionary redesign of the D-Series.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

No matter. For the next two decades, the family-size Citroen remained arguably the most technically advanced car in this world. It boasted more innovation, more technical wizardry, and more sheer complexity than any previous family car -- which meant that, as with the styling, it not only built up a big following, but attracted a fair bit of criticism. If fans loved the D for its sophistication, detractors chided it for exactly the same reason.

The big Citroen DS19 was nicknamed "The Goddess." Continue on to the next page to learn why.

For more information on cars, see: