An icon. The Citroën DS is one of the monuments, a wonder of the automotive world. If humans ever leave Earth and decide to send just ten cars from history to our new home in the stars, a Citroën DS will have to be there, sitting between the Ford Model T and the Ferrari F40. This is Citroën at its craziest.
Now, if you are under 40, Citroen may not communicate with you much. They’re just another mainstream automaker building sedans and crossovers, except some of them have those fun rubberized Airbump panels, right? Fair enough. But Citroën’s history is actually littered with innovations and technological breakthroughs that have made it a name known for leading the way in design… and sometimes bankruptcy. The Méhari, the Traction Avant, the SM… this is the pantheon of avant-garde cars. And the jewel in the crown is the DS. No family sedan before or since, with the possible exception of the Tesla Model S, has taken the game this far in such a short amount of time.
Its elegant teardrop shape, complete with round headlights, was first revealed at the Paris Motor Show in 1955. Yes, just a decade after the end of World War II, Citroën had the ways to produce a daring spaceship. how are you. They knew it was a beauty: the name ‘DS’ is a pun on the French word goddesswhich means ‘goddess’.
15 minutes after removing the covers, Citroën had received 743 orders. At the end of the day, there were 12,000 deposits in the bank. Nine days later, when the fair closed, more than 80,000 people had said “yes, I’m taking one” and Citroën had record success on its hands. In our modern age of internet pre-orders, that may seem bland, but for a front-wheel-drive family car that landed in a market still reeling from the ravages of war, it was a phenomenon.
The DS didn’t just win over buyers with its sleek speedboat looks. His technology was relevant in the real world. The entire car relied on a self-levelling, hydro-pneumatic independent suspension that would soak up the bumps on the notoriously bumpy French roads and even raise the car for more ground clearance. Range Rovers couldn’t do that for decades. Heck, the Range Rover wasn’t invented for 14 years.
Then there was the power steering and semi-automatic gearbox, all hydraulically operated, and the lightweight fiberglass roof. The front brakes were mounted internally, not on the wheels, to reduce unsprung weight. Citroën was far ahead of its rivals in mounting radial tires. The car had a wider track at the front to reduce understeer. They discovered all this… in 1955! When we still had steam trains and black and white television, it was a luxury.
Later DSs stepped up the innovation with mechanically rotating headlights that “peered” around corners as the driver turned the wheel. A DS ‘Break’ station wagon also joined the range and, from the rear of its beefed-up chassis, gave way to the superb DS Cabrio top we photographed.
Production of the DS lasted until 1975, when Citroën decided, in another crazy dream, to replace it with the much more powerful and expensive SM coupé with a Maserati V6. However, many of its intelligent systems, such as the “magic carpet” suspension and cornering lights, were inherited from the DS, which had cemented its iconic status during his lifetime.
What’s the verdict?
The DS truly lives up to not only its reputation as one of Citroën’s greatest cars, but also as a machine that changed the automotive landscape. This car wasn’t just a shot through the arches of Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar: it was a French response to its destruction during the war and a beacon of endless courage and innovation.
It’s still a monument to all of this today, and incredibly cool to go with it. Drive one before you die.
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Source : topgear.com
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