Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Seeking Motoring Perfection - The Citroen DS

The modern car has begun with the Citroen DS. It was, back in 1955 when it was launched, the first mass production car to get front power disc brakes…It also had independent suspension , power steering , fuel injection , semi-automatic gearbox , a hydropneumatic suspension that allowed it to magically modify its ground clearance and headlamps that would follow the corners .

It was an immense technical achievement and in its first day of display at the Paris Motor Show , more than 12 000 were ordered . It’s no wonder that in its 20 years of production one and a half million people bought a new one, turning it into one of the most successful car models ever made . It was this very car that turned Citroen into a big name, not only because it was so innovative but mostly because it actually worked . The hydraulic suspension meant that it was comfortable, a good characteristic when cruising down the post World War II roads. It also handled well for a car of that time and the range of engines could provide enough power to make any ride enjoyable . The roof was made out of fiberglass to facilitate weight transfer and the different wheel size meant that the quite large executive saloon wouldn’t understeer.

And then there’s the look… Flaminio Bertoni , the Italian sculptor designed it and passed the sketches to Andre Lefebvre , who was an aeronautical engineer . The result was a beautifully shaped yet aerodynamic body, in a time when most people would consider aerodynamics a form of heresy. Everybody loved the curvy shape that perfectly embodied stile and practicality and , as a result , a large number of film directors included it in their productions .

The DS quickly turned into a symbol , a symbol that was to define Citroen’s personality. After the DS , a buyer would expect every Citroen to be innovative , beautiful , sexy , standing at the limit between common sense and madness . Did the French manufacturer ever rise to the DS standards? Probably not…

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