The 1955 D-Series--One Smooth Ride
In some ways, the "powered suspension" made the 1955 D-Series act more like a large contemporary American car than a typical European machine, for the ride was very soft, almost lazy. On the other hand, grip was tenacious at the very least, so despite its size, a D could hustle along at the most amazing speeds.
Though it displayed a considerable amount of body roll in the process, the DS19 lived up to its maker's claim of "combining the performance of the sports car with the luxury of the limousine." Road & Track backed that up, stating that "On every kind of surface traversable by four wheels, it absorbs shock and maintains stability to a degree never achieved before."
Because hydraulic pressure gradually eased when the engine was switched off, a D would slowly settle on its "haunches" when parked, a trait sometimes likened to a camel bedding down for the night.
Come morning, it would be almost belly-to-the-ground, but would naturally come to life again when fired up, the front and then the rear rising gracefully several inches to a predetermined height, normally about six inches ground clearance.
You might guess that this facility would be useful for tire-changing, and so it was. In fact, you almost had to use it for the near fully covered rear wheels. The process was simple enough: Lift the car to full height via the manual lever (to 11 1/2 inches ground clearance), place the jack where appropriate, then lower the car onto it -- all very neat and efficient. By the way, D-Series wheel hubs were splined, so only a single lug nut was needed to secure each rim.
Theoretically, the front-to-rear interconnection of the suspension units gave a truly supple, "magic carpet" ride on all surfaces. And Motor Trend concurred, saying that the D-Series provided "one of the most amazingly comfortable rides on the road."
The reason was that the D was clearly designed for the mixed-quality French roads of the period, making it a long-legged machine that seemed to thrive on great journeys, even over severe potholes.
But though this chassis worked very well most of the time, there were situations -- humpbacks taken at high speed were the most notorious -- where the rear end would bottom out with an enormous crash as weight "unloaded" and temporarily deprived the spheres of pressure.
Continue on to the next page to see photos and learn more about the features of the 1955-1975 Citroen D-Series.