Citroen DS: A Goddess of French Design
The only goddess who existed in the mythology of the motorization came from France. Its unveiling was made by Citroën in October 1955, at the Paris Motor Show. The initial letters “DS” of its name came from the French word “Déesse”, which means “goddess”. The Italian designer Flaminio Bertoni, crafted the chassis of the Citroën DS with reverence. Its surreal beauty made it stand out from the mortal cars of the era. Its beauty referred to a sculpture made of iron. Its aerodynamic architecture is praised still today by the contemporary design space. The interior of the DS is an object for study. The innovative design is more than evident, while particular emphasis has been given to the security sector. The spacious cabin was protected by a zone of controlled deformation, for the power of a potential collision to be absorbed. Adding seat belts opened a new chapter in the field of passive safety. It is worth emphasizing that the seat belts became compulsory in France in 1973, while DS used them since the early 60's. The steering wheel with only one radius was a hallmark of Citroën at the time. The hydraulic function except comfortable driving offered full and direct control of the car. The radius of the steering wheel was rotated in such way that it wouldn’t ever face the body of the driver, thereby minimizing the risk of injury from a collision. Moreover, steerable headlights which follow the direction of the steering wheel were an amazing sample of technological excellence, offering improved visibility when driving in turns.
The four-speed semiautomatic gearbox and the front disc brakes, a first in a mass-production car, fit in the mechanical part of the arsenal of the DS. One of the reasons that the DS stand out was its revolutionary hydropneumatic suspension. Citroën engineers placed hydrolastic cylinders instead of springs and shock absorbers at the rear wheels, keeping the height of the car unchanged regardless of the weight of the load. Citroën is considered a leader in the field of suspension to this day. The Hydractive system that is now used by the French brand is an evolution of the hydropneumatic suspension seen here. In the early years, DS used the aging 1911 cc engine that created 75 frail horsepower. Citroën was using that particular engine in its models since 1934. The DS was released from the paleolithic engine in 1970 when it first launched the new electronic fuel injection.
The production of the legendary DS lasted from 1955 to 1975. Two decades of progress yielded 1,455,746 vehicles sold. In a vote held in 1999 for the promotion of the "Car of the Century", DS climbed to third place. The DS was honored more than any car by its homeland. It is considered the national car in France, a symbol of French ingenuity and is inextricably linked with the rapid development of the domestic automotive industry. In Greece, the DS is demystified, acquiring the nickname "Frog" because of its unconventional appearance. In 1958 the beneficial house Henri Chapron built the collectable DS cabriolet. The production was limited to 1,365 copies. The station wagon version of DS, called Brake is considered equally rare. In early 2009, Citroën announced the creation of a separate class of luxury models, branded DS. However, the acronym DS now comes from the words “Different Spirit”. The DS3, DS4 and DS5 are considered the current descendants of the historic DS. This article was written by long time gearhead and automotive writer George Psarras