The Citroën DS marked the beginning of a new automotive era, both for its avant-garde qualities and imperious design that made competitors look almost obsolete.
In the Grand Palais, journalists and visitors made their way to the 1955 Paris Motor Show and were treated to a vehicle that broke even the quirkiest of French rules, pushing the boundaries further than ever before.
Citroën DS – Automotive Icon
65 years after its launch, the DS remains one of the automotive icons of the 20th-century, synonymous with glamour, luxury, design and above all innovation. With its unique, elegant, dynamic and refined style, this exceptional car has been the favourite vehicle of politicians, magnates, movie stars … Its technical and aesthetic influence is without a doubt unquestionable.
Revolutionary in its design and modular in construction, the DS was the product of a unique synergy between engineer André Lefèvre and designer Flaminio Bertoni, a talented duo that had already put its stamp on some legendary models since the 1930s.
The Citroën DS ‘shark’ was the perfect marriage of technology and aesthetics, creating a perfect harmony where lines and shapes were a reflection of technical solutions and an obsession with aerodynamics and comfort, successfully managing to combine functionality with a uniquely attractive design.
Among the wild ideas that whirled around in the head of André Lefebvre, the chief engineer who presided over this thoughtful the project, was to build an extremely modular car. Citroën even designed the car with a low centre of gravity, where body panels were strategically positioned and therefore easily removed if and when that time became necessary.
The steel body elements, the aluminium hoods (initially the rear one), the Plexiglas rear window and the fibre-glass roof were superimposed on a steel frame of a certain thickness, necessary to give rigidity to the structure of the vehicle.
Exterior & Interior
An exterior that remains unique 65 years later, the interior feels almost timeless with attention to detail paid at every given opportunity. Its dashboard and instrument panels are a true work of art and a benchmark in ergonomics: the driver can access all the controls of the vehicle without having to release the steering wheel at any given time. Roofline, uprights, windscreen and frameless windows are all designed to maximise vision and the feeling of spacious comfort.
Whilst the classic DS embraced technology it was the suspension, steering and braking system that were the most outstanding elements of this now legendary car. Revolutionary hydro-pneumatic suspension substituted the traditional damping springs with the upper section containing gas or in this case nitrogen, which ensured the smooth operation of the suspension, taking into account any movement of the wheels whilst negotiating irregular road surfaces.
This innovative system gave the DS a considerable advantage over its competitors at the time, offering exceptional road performance and comfort. An exclusivity also provided by its innovative power steering.
Once again ahead of its time, disc brakes were something that had only been witnessed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans were incorporated, as standard, in the front brakes of the DS since its inception. Linked to the high-pressure hydraulic power steering, they not only give this vehicle great operating comfort but also excellent deceleration.
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