1955-1975 Citroen DS 19/20/21/23

Citroen DS
1970 Citroen DS 21 sedan

The 1955-1975 Citroën DS 19/20/21/23 was a futuristic design from the French pioneer of front-wheel drive, and was still quite advanced next to most competitors when it was replaced 20 years later by the long-running CX series. This was the mainstay of the Citro
ën line for many years, and the "Goddess" was the first car reflecting the firm's interest and expertise in the art of aerodynamics.

The model’s monocoque body/chassis featured fully detachable skin panels; the car could even be driven in "skeleton" form. The DS also introduced Citro
ën'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
Minuses of the 1955-1975 Citroën DS 19/20/21/23:
  • Mechanically complex, so expect restoration and maintenance headaches
  • Disappointing acceleration
  • Strange dash and minor control layout
  • Brakes demand driver practice
  • Rust-prone

Production of the 1955-1975 Citroën DS 19/20/21/23:
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
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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