Citroen DS Review: Model | DS | Car Buyers Guide

Classic Review: Citroen DS

Citroën recently became the latest manufacturer to look to its past for inspiration by launching the first of a new range of upmarket ‘DS’ models that recall the spirit of what is perhaps its best-known car – the Déese (‘Goddess’), as the French call it. However the new DS3 hatchback did not make the same impact that the original DS did when it was unveiled at the 1955 Paris Motor Show. There were no leaked blog images in those days, of course, so after the amazed French public had picked their jaws up off the ground, they proceeded to place 12,000 orders for the beautiful new car that same day. The DS’ curvy shape was the work of Italian designer Flaminio Bertoni, and within two years of its launch, the car was already being shown at art exhibitions alongside paintings and avant-garde sculpture. The French philosopher Roland Barthes was also quite taken with the DS. He devoted a whole chapter of his work “Mythologies” to the car, and described it as looking like it had “fallen from the sky.”


But as well as being visually stunning, the DS was a feast of mechanical innovation. In addition to its world-famous, self-levelling hydro-pneumatic suspension, it was the first mass-produced car to be offered with front power disc brakes. It also had a semi-automatic transmission and power steering and its headlights swivelled to provide better illumination when the car turned a corner. The aforementioned suspension offered unrivalled ride comfort, and also allowed the car to be driven on only three wheels. However, this can put quite a strain on the frame and is not recommended!


This combination of head-turning looks and futuristic technology have made the car hugely popular as a classic, both around the world and here in Ireland. David Connolly from Dublin has owned the 1972 DS pictured here for six years. “The sense of drama and occasion every time you turn the key, the depth and sophistication of engineering and, frankly, the weirdness of it all, are immensely appealing,” he says, “but it’s also a very practical car, with a huge boot and masses of legroom.” David adds that the unique DS driving experience is incomparable to any modern car. “It starts on the gear lever, has no clutch or brake pedal and you have to wait until it rises on its suspension... The DS hisses and clinks as you drive it – you get more aural feedback than any other car I’ve driven. This really involves you in every drive.”


David has clocked up 60,000km in his time with the DS, and as well as transporting David and his family from day to day, it has also taken him and his wife on a 6,000km round trip to Switzerland without missing a beat.


Although the DS’ quirky design can make some aspects of maintenance difficult and time-consuming, David reckons this should not put off potential buyers, as parts are cheap and readily available and there are several specialist DS mechanics in Ireland. However, if you want one, you’ll have to speak to someone else ­– David says he has no intention of ever parting with his!


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