The CITROëN DS (French pronunciation: ) is a front-engine,
front-wheel-drive executive car that was manufactured and marketed by
the French company
Noted for its aerodynamic, futuristic body design and innovative technology, the DS set new standards in ride quality , handling , and braking —and was the first production car equipped with disc brakes .
The DS placed third in the 1999
Car of the Century
Contemporary journalists said the DS pushed the envelope in the ride vs. handling compromise possible in a motor vehicle.
To a France still deep in reconstruction after the devastation of World War II, and also building its identity in the post-colonial world, the DS was a symbol of French ingenuity. The DS was distributed to many territories throughout the world. Turn indicators were mounted in the upper corners of the rear window.
It also posited the nation's relevance in the
Because they were owned by the technologically aggressive tire
The car featured a novel hydropneumatic suspension including an automatic leveling system and variable ground clearance , developed in-house by Paul Magès . This suspension allowed the DS to travel quickly on the poor road surfaces common in France.
In addition, the vehicle had power steering and a semi-automatic transmission (the transmission required no clutch pedal, but gears still had to be shifted by hand ), though the shift lever controlled a powered hydraulic shift mechanism in place of a mechanical linkage, and a fibreglass roof which lowered the centre of gravity and so reduced weight transfer . Inboard front brakes (as well as independent suspension) reduced unsprung weight. Different front and rear track widths and tyre sizes reduced the unequal tyre loading, which is well known to promote understeer , typical of front-engined and front-wheel drive cars.
As with all French cars, the DS design was affected by the tax
horsepower system, which effectively mandated very small engines.
The DS placed third in the 1999
Car of the Century
DS19 at the 1956 1000 Lakes Rally
The DS was successful in motorsports like rallying , where sustained
speeds on poor surfaces are paramount, and won the Monte Carlo Rally
in 1959. In the 1000 Lakes Rally ,
In 1966, the DS won the
Monte Carlo Rally
TECHNICAL INNOVATION – HYDRAULIC SYSTEMS
In conventional cars, hydraulics are only used in brakes and power steering . In the DS they were also used for the suspension, clutch and transmission. The cheaper 1957 ID19 did have manual steering and a simplified power-braking system. An engine driven pump pressurizes the closed system to 2,400 pounds per square inch .
At a time when few passenger vehicles had independent suspension on all wheels, the application of the hydraulic system to the car's suspension system to provide a self-levelling system was an innovative move. This suspension allowed the car to achieve sharp handling combined with very high ride quality , frequently compared to a "magic carpet ".
The hydropneumatic suspension used was pioneered the year before, on the rear of another car from Citroën, the top of range Traction Avant 15CV-H.
IMPACT ON CITROëN BRAND DEVELOPMENT
The 1955 DS cemented the
The DS was a large, expensive executive car and a downward brand
extension was attempted, but without result. Throughout the late 1950s
New models based on the small, utilitarian 2CV economy car were
introduced, notably the 1961 Ami . It was also designed by Flaminio
Bertoni and aimed to combine
REPLACING THE DS
The DS remained popular and competitive throughout its production run. Its peak production year was 1970. Certain design elements like the somewhat narrow cabin, column-mounted gearstick , and separate fenders began to seem a little old-fashioned in the 1970s.
The SM had a different purpose than replacing the 15-year-old DS
design however - it was meant to launch
The SM's high price and limited utility of the 2+2 seating configuration, meant the SM as actually produced could not seize the mantle from the DS.
So, while the design funds invested would allow the DS to be replaced by two cars - a 'modern DS' and the smaller CX , it was left to the CX alone to provide Citroën's large family or executive car in the model range.
The last DS came off the production line on 24 April 1975 - the manufacturer had taken the elementary precaution of building up approximately eight-month's of inventory of the "break" (estate/station wagon) version of the DS, to cover the period till Autumn 1975 when the estate/station wagon version of the CX would be introduced.
The DS always maintained its size and shape, with easily removable, unstressed body panels, but certain design changes did occur. During the 20-year production life improvements were made on an ongoing basis.
ID 19 SUBMODEL TO EXTEND BRAND DOWNWARDS (1957–69)
The 1955 DS19 was 65% more expensive than the car it replaced, the
The ID shared the DS's body but was less powerful and luxurious. Although it shared the engine capacity of the DS engine (at this stage 1,911 cc), the ID provided a maximum power output of only 69 hp compared to the 75 hp claimed for the DS19. Power outputs were further differentiated in 1961 when the DS19 acquired a Weber-32 twin bodied carburettor, and the increasing availability of higher octane fuel enabled the manufacturer to increase the compression ratio from 7.5:1 to 8.5:1. A new DS19 now came with a promised 83 hp of power. The ID19 was also more traditional mechanically: it had no power steering and had conventional transmission and clutch instead of the DS's hydraulically controlled set-up. Initially the basic ID19 was sold on the French market with a price saving of more than 25% against the DS, although the differential was reduced at the end of 1961 when the manufacturer quietly withdrew the entry level ID19 "Normale" from sale. A station wagon variant, the ID Break, was introduced in 1958.
D SPéCIAL AND D SUPER (1970–75)
The ID was replaced by the D Spécial and D Super in 1970, but these retained the lower specification position in the range. The D Super was available with the DS21 2175ccm engine and a 5 speed gearbox, and named the D Super 5.
SERIES 2 - NOSE REDESIGN IN 1962
In September 1962, the DS was restyled with a more aerodynamically efficient nose, better ventilation and other improvements. It retained the open two headlamp appearance, but was available with an optional set of driving lights mounted on the front fenders. All models in the range changed nose design at the same time, including the ID and station wagon models.
SERIES 3 - NOSE REDESIGN IN 1967 WITH DIRECTIONAL HEADLIGHTS
In late 1967, for the 1968 model year, the DS and ID was again restyled, by Robert Opron , who also styled the 1970 SM and 1974 CX. This version had a more streamlined headlamp design, giving the car a notably shark-like appearance. This design had four headlights under a smooth glass canopy, and the inner set swivelled with the steering wheel. This allowed the driver to see "around" turns, especially valuable on twisting roads driven at high speed at night.
Behind each glass cover lens, the inboard high-beam headlamp swivels by up to 80° as the driver steers, throwing the beam along the driver's intended path rather than uselessly across the curved road. The outboard low-beam headlamps are self-leveling in response to pitching caused by acceleration and braking.
However, this feature was not allowed in the US at the time (see
World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations
This 'turning headlight' feature was new to the market - it had only been seen before on the very rare three headlight 1935 Tatra 77A . The Tucker , which never was mass-produced, had a central headlight that turned with the steering. 45 years later, it is now a commonly available feature, even in the United States.
NEW GREEN HYDRAULIC FLUID
The original hydropneumatic system used a vegetable oil liquide hydraulique végétal (LHV), similar to that used in other cars at the time, but later switched to a synthetic fluid liquide hydraulique synthétique (LHS). Both of these had the disadvantage that they are hygroscopic , as is the case with most brake fluids . Disuse allows water to enter the hydraulic components causing deterioration and expensive maintenance work. The difficulty with hygroscopic hydraulic fluid was exacerbated in the DS/ID due to the extreme rise and fall in the fluid level in the reservoir, which went from nearly full to nearly empty when the suspension extended to maximum height and the six accumulators in the system filled with fluid. With every "inhalation" of fresh moisture- (and dust-) laden air, the fluid absorbed more water.
For the 1967 model year,
LHM required completely different materials for the seals. Using either fluid in the incorrect system would completely destroy the hydraulic seals very quickly. To help avoid this problem, Citroën added a bright green dye to the LHM fluid and also painted all hydraulic elements bright green. The former LHS parts were painted black.
All models, including the station wagon and ID, were upgraded at the same time. The hydraulic fluid changed to the technically superior LHM in all markets except the US and Canada, where the change did not take place until January 1969, due to local regulations.
INTERNATIONAL SALES AND PRODUCTION
The DS was primarily manufactured at the Quai André-
Until 1965, cars were assembled at the manufacturer's Slough
premises, to the west of London, using a combination of French made
knock down kits and locally sourced components, some of them machined
on site. A French electrical system superseded the British one on the
The DS was built and sold in
The DS was sold in Japan, but the models were built in France and left hand drive .
From 2005 to 2008, a young Frenchman named Manuel Boileau travelled
around the world in a 1971 DS ambulance. It was an 80,000 kilometer
journey across 38 countries called Lunaya World Tour. While traveling
DS IN NORTH AMERICA
The DS was sold in North America from 1956 to 1972. Despite its popularity in Europe, it didn't sell well in the United States, and little better in Canada. While promoted as a luxury car, it did not have the basic features that American buyers expected to find on such a vehicle, such as an automatic transmission , air conditioning , power windows , or a powerful engine. The DS was designed specifically to address the French market, with punitive tax horsepower taxation of large engines, as well as very poor roads – it's no great mystery that it was a fish out of water when those constraints were removed.
The DS was expensive, with a 115 hp (86 kW) vehicle costing $4,170 in 1969, when the price was $4,500 for a 360 hp (268 kW) Buick Electra 225 4 door sedan. For all years, 38,000 units were sold.
US regulations at the time also banned one of the car's more advanced
features: its composite headlamps with aerodynamic covered lenses.
Based on legislation that dated from 1940, all automobiles sold in the
U.S. were required to have round, sealed beam headlamps that produced
a meager 75,000 candlepower. The powerful quartz iodine swiveling
headlamps designed for the 1968 model DS represented so many
performance improvements at once that they were far beyond what the
regulations could allow. Even the aerodynamic headlight covers were
illegal – as seen on the 1968
The European lamps were legal in Canada, including the directional headlamps .
The hydraulic fluid change in 1967 was another brain teaser for U.S.
automotive regulators at the
Department of Transportation
In 1965 a luxury upgrade, the DS Pallas (after Greek goddess Pallas ), was introduced. This included comfort features such as better noise insulation, a more luxurious (and optional leather) upholstery and external trim embellishments. From 1966 the Pallas model received a driver's seat with height adjustment.
STATION WAGON, FAMILIALE, AND AMBULANCE
A station wagon version was introduced in 1958. It was known by
various names in different markets (Break in France, Safari and Estate
in the UK, Wagon in the US, and
The Ambulance configuration was similar to that of the Break, but with a 60/30 split in the rear folding seat to accommodate a stretcher. A 'Commerciale' version was also available for a time.
The Safari saw use as a camera car, notably by the
Rarest and most collectable of all DS variants, a convertible was
offered from 1958 until 1973. The Cabriolet d'Usine (factory
convertible) were built by French carrossier
Henri Chapron , for the
In addition, Chapron also produced a few coupés, non-works convertibles and special sedans (including the "Prestige", same wheelbase but with a central divider, and the "Lorraine" notchback ).
Between 1959 and 1964, Hector Bossaert produced a coupé on a DS chassis shortened by 470 mm (18 1⁄2 inches). While the front end remained unchanged, the rear end featured notchback styling .
In 1965, noted American auto customizer
Gene Winfield created The
The Reactor was seen in American
Mid-1960s interior Swedish-spec
In a hydropneumatic suspension system, each wheel is connected, not to a spring, but to a hydraulic suspension unit consisting of a hydraulic accumulator sphere of about 12 cm in diameter containing pressurised nitrogen , a cylinder containing hydraulic fluid screwed to the suspension sphere, a piston inside the cylinder connected by levers to the suspension itself, and a damper valve between the piston and the sphere. A membrane in the sphere prevented the nitrogen from escaping. The motion of the wheels translated to a motion of the piston, which acted on the oil in the nitrogen cushion and provided the spring effect. The damper valve took place of the shock absorber in conventional suspensions. The hydraulic cylinder was fed with hydraulic fluid from the main pressure reservoir via a height corrector, a valve controlled by the mid-position of the anti-roll bar connected to the axle. If the suspension was too low, the height corrector introduced high-pressure fluid; if it was too high, it released fluid back to the fluid reservoir. In this manner, a constant ride height was maintained. A control in the cabin allowed the driver to select one of five heights : normal riding height, two slightly higher riding heights for poor terrain, and two extreme positions for changing wheels. (The correct term, oleopneumatic (oil-air), has never gained widespread use. Hydropneumatic (water-air) continues to be preferred overwhelmingly.)
The DS did not have a jack for lifting the car off the ground. Instead, the hydraulic system enabled wheel changes with the aid of a simple adjustable stand. To change a flat tyre, one would adjust the suspension to its topmost setting, insert the stand into a special peg near the flat tyre, then readjust the suspension to its lowermost setting. The flat tyre would then retract upwards and hover above ground, ready to be changed. This system, used on the SM also, was superseded on the CX by a screw jack that, after the suspension was raised to the high position, lifted the tire clear of the ground. The DS system, while impressive to use, sometimes dropped the car quite suddenly, especially if the stand was not placed precisely or the ground was soft or unlevel.
SOURCE AND RESERVE OF PRESSURE
The central part of the hydraulic system was the high pressure pump, which maintained a pressure of between 130 and 150 bar in two accumulators. These accumulators were very similar in construction to the suspension spheres. One was dedicated to the front brakes , and the other ran the other hydraulic systems. (On the simpler ID models, the front brakes operated from the main accumulator.) Thus in case of a hydraulic failure, the first indication would be that the steering became heavy, followed by the gearbox not working; only later would the brakes fail.
Two different hydraulic pumps were used. The DS used a seven-cylinder axial piston pump driven off two belts and delivering 175 bar (2,540 psi) of pressure. The ID19, with its simpler hydraulic system, had a single-cylinder pump driven by an eccentric on the camshaft .
GEARBOX AND CLUTCH
Hydraulique Or Citromatic
The DS was initially offered only with the "hydraulique" four-speed semi-automatic (bvh—"boîte de vitesses hydraulique") gearbox.
This was a four-speed gearbox and clutch, operated by a hydraulic controller. To change gears, the driver flicked a lever behind the steering wheel to the next position and eased-up on the accelerator pedal. The hydraulic controller disengaged the clutch , engaged the nominated gear, and re-engaged the clutch. The speed of engagement of the clutch was controlled by a centrifugal regulator sensing engine rpm and driven off the camshaft by a belt, the position of the butterfly valve in the carburettor (i.e., the position of the accelerator), and the brake circuit. When the brake was pressed, the engine idle speed dropped to an rpm below the clutch engagement speed, thus preventing friction while stopped in gear at traffic lights. When the brake was released, the idle speed increased to the clutch dragging speed. The car would then creep forward much like automatic transmission cars. This drop in idle throttle position also caused the car to have more engine drag when the brakes were applied even before the car slowed to the idle speed in gear, preventing the engine from pulling against the brakes. In the event of loss of hydraulic pressure (following loss of system fluid), the clutch would disengage, to prevent driving, while brake pressure reserves would allow safe braking to standstill.
Manual—four-speed And Five-speed
The later and simpler ID19 had the same gearbox and clutch, manually
operated. This configuration was offered as a cheaper option for the
DS in 1963. The mechanical aspects of the gearbox and clutch were
completely conventional and the same elements were used in the ID 19.
In September 1970,
In September 1971
Cutaway model shows engine set far back from front wheels ("MF layout "), and partially reveals configuration of the oleopneumatic suspension.
The DS was originally designed around an air-cooled flat-six based on
the design of the 2-cylinder engine of the 2CV, similar to the motor
Thus, for such a modern car, the engine of the original DS 19 was
also old-fashioned. It was derived from the engine of the 11CV
Like the Traction Avant, the DS had the gearbox mounted in front of the engine, with the differential in between. Thus some consider the DS to be a mid engine front-wheel drive car.
The DS and ID powerplants evolved throughout its 20-year production life. The car was underpowered and faced constant mechanical changes to boost the performance of the four-cylinder engine. The initial 1911 cc three main bearing engine (carried forward from the Traction Avant ) of the DS 19 was replaced in 1965 with the 1985 cc five-bearing wet-cylinder motor, becoming the DS 19a (called DS 20 from September 1969). Spare tire, mounted under the hood
The DS 21 was also introduced for model year 1965. This was a 2175 cc, five main bearing engine; power was 109 hp This engine received a substantial increase in power with the introduction of Bosch electronic fuel injection for 1970, making the DS one of the first mass-market cars to use electronic fuel injection. Power of the carbureted version also increased slightly at the same time, owing to the employment of larger inlet valves.
Lastly, 1973 saw the introduction of the 2347 cc engine of the DS 23 in both carbureted and fuel-injected forms. The DS 23 with electronic fuel injection was the most powerful production model, producing 141 hp (105 kW).
IDs and their variants went through a similar evolution, generally lagging the DS by about one year. ID saloon models never received the DS 23 engine or fuel injection, although the Break/Familiale versions received the carburetted version of the DS 23 engine when it was introduced, supplemented the DS20 Break/Familiale.
The top of the range ID model, The DSuper5 (DP) gained the DS21 engine (the only model that this engine was retained in) for the 1973 model year and it was mated to a five-speed gearbox. This should not be confused with the 1985 cc DSuper fitted with an optional "low ratio" five-speed gearbox, or with the previous DS21M (DJ) five-speed.
IN POPULAR CULTURE
Charles de Gaulle
Beyond de Gaulle and the French aristocracy, the roomy DS also appealed to French taxi drivers.
Outside France, the car drew an eclectic customer mix, such as
The DS is featured prominently in Gavin Lyall's 1965 suspense novel Midnight Plus One as the "get away car" for a fugitive businessman and his hired bodyguards on a journey from Brittany to Liechtenstein. An ode to Jane Child 's DS21 appears on her 1989 self-titled album.
According to Internet Movie Cars Database , the DS/ID has made over 2,000 film and television appearances so far.
After a driverless car chase, a DS transforms into the robot Rodimus Prime in the 2017 film Transformers: The Last Knight .
Several episodes of the 1960s television series Mission: Impossible , featured the DS including substantial appearances in "The Slave" (episode 2.06) and "Robot" (episode 4.09).
In 1989, the film
Back to the Future Part II featured a modified
Two films focus on the DS,
The Goddess of 1967
The DS's beloved place in French society was demonstrated in
* 1955: 69 * 1956: 9,868 * 1957: 28,593 * 1958: 52,416 * 1959: 66,931 * 1960: 83,205 * 1961: 77,597 * 1962: 83,035 * 1963: 93,476 * 1964: 85,379 * 1965: 89,314 * 1966: 99,561 * 1967: 101,904 * 1968: 81,860 * 1969: 82,218 * 1970: 103,633 * 1971: 84,328 * 1972: 92,483 * 1973: 96,990 * 1974: 40,039 * 1975: 847
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