It is no coincidence that Citroen’s masterpiece sedan is called DS. It so happens that the French word for Goddess is Déesse, pronounced the same way as the name of Citroen’s new mid-sized sedan. The clever word play was more than just a marketing ploy; it was a fitting name for a car the likes of which had never been seen before. In the early 1950’s, the Citroen Traction Avant was starting to show its pre-war roots and was due for a replacement after nearly 20 years of production. Typical for Citroen, a simple evolution of the Traction Avant was not considered. Instead, a revolutionary new car was developed and a stunning space age body was designed by Flaminio Bertoni and André Lefèbvre; an Italian sculptor and French aeronautical engineer, respectively. Citroen attempted to redefine the limits of automobile design with their flamboyant new car. Amazingly, the DS was never intended as a car for the super-rich. This was car for the middle class, a mid-sized sedan with a humble four-cylinder engine and seating for up to six in sublime comfort. Under the space-ship skin was a thoroughly modern, highly sophisticated machine. The independent suspension was sprung by an advanced hydro-pneumatic system that was self-leveling and adjustable for ride height. Inboard front brakes reduced unsprung weight and the DS was the first car to feature power front disc brakes as standard. The high-pressure hydraulics controlled braking, steering, and the semi-automatic transmission. The roof panel was made of fiberglass, lowering the center of gravity to help with handling. The unique tapering track width reduced understeer which was a common issue for front-wheel drive cars. The DS and its simpler ID sibling remained in production for twenty years and over 1.5 Million were built in an array of bodies – sedan, coupe, wagon, and convertible.
This 1970 DS21 is a truly exquisite example of The Goddess. Being a later car, it features the redesigned front end with enclosed headlamps that swivel in conjunction with the steering. This model also is fitted with a conventional 4-speed manual transmission, for ease of service and use. It is highly original save for one quality repaint in the original dark red body with silver roof. The repaint was done in France, where the rubber seals were replaced using genuine Citroen parts. Panel fit and paint quality are both excellent. Under the hood lies the 2.1 liter 4-cylinder engine with Bosch electronic fuel injection. The engine bay is tidy and correct, with original labels, radiator shroud and front-mounted spare tire intact. The Citroen DS is all about the other-worldly driving experience, and inside you find original red cloth upholstery with two-tone red/silver door trims in outstanding condition. A modern radio has been discreetly fitted to the passenger side of the dash. That utterly fantastic single-spoke steering wheel gives a clear view of the original instruments and out over the long hood. The interior of the DS is like nothing else out there – the seats are like sitting on an overstuffed sofa as the suspension effortlessly soaks up bumps. You can drive all day and arrive at your destination relaxed and fresh. The Citroen DS was voted the most beautiful car of all time by Classic & Sportscar, and it also finished 3rd in the Car of the Century award. One drive in this prime example and you’ll see why the DS is a design, engineering and style icon.