Citroen DS - A car years ahead of its time
By James Grahame
The 1950s were filled with stunning curvy things: Sputnik, Marilyn Monroe and the Citroën DS. This masterpiece of French design and engineering was introduced at the 1955 Paris Auto Show. The company received an unbelievable 12,000 orders on the very first day of the show. In addition to being the first production car with front disc brakes, the DS offered a futuristic hydropneumatic suspension system with adjustable ground clearance, a lightweight fiberglass roof, semi-automatic transmission and front wheel drive.
Over 1.5 million DS variants were sold between 1955 and 1975, and it (along with the Citroën 2CV6 and the ubiquitous VW Bug) are the cars that populate my early memories of Paris in the 1970s. Back then, this amazing design seemed like something from outer space. The 1.9L 4-cylinder engine put out 75 HP and was mated to a fascinating 4-speed semi-automatic hydraulic transmission; changing gears required the driver to activate a lever mounted behind the steering wheel and release the accelerator pedal momentarily.
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