Citroën DS Classic Car Styling from France

The Citroën DS was designed Italian sculptor and industrial designer
Flaminio Bertoniby for Citroën France in 1955

The Citroën DS was unveiled before a stunned public at the Paris Motor Show in October 1955. By the end of the day the French company had received 12,000 orders for the new car. With a drag co-efficient of 0.38, its streamlined and sculptured body looked, as Roland Barthes was to comment, 'as if it has fallen from the sky.

The Citroën DS is an executive car produced by the French manufacturer Citroën between 1955 and 1975. Styled by Italian sculptor and industrial designer Flaminio Bertoni, the DS is known for its aerodynamic futuristic body design and innovative technology, including a hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension.

Some twenty years later Citroën ceased production of the Citroën DS. 1.4 million units had been sold and the Citroën DS, like its predecessor the Traction Avant, was acknowledged as one of the most remarkable and influential designs in automotive history.

Comparing the Citroën DS to rival saloon cars of the mid 1950s, this display (at the Design Museum) outlines the various elements which made the Citroën DS so advanced for its day, including its radical hydropneumatic suspension, disc brakes and semi-automatic transmission. It also outlines the various uses to which the car has been put: either as the official French government and diplomatic service vehicle, or as an ambulance.

Exhibited at the Milan Triennale (1957) and New York's Museum of Modern Art (1966), the car has now been ranked as a 'design classic'. This profile seeks to analyse why, despite certain mechanical deficiencies, the Citroën DS has inspired such fierce devotion amongst those who would not otherwise consider themselves to be car enthusiasts. The Citroën DS hydropneumatic suspension still gives the most comfortable ride of any car - driving the Citroën DS is like riding a magic carpet.

Useful features include adjustable ride height for difficult terrain and the ability to change a wheel without using a jack. With its suspension lowered the Citroën DS cannot be clamped. Its other unique characteristics include hydraulic power steering, single spoked steering wheel and headlights that "see" round corners! Should you ever need to, a DS can safely be driven on three wheels. The rigidity of its construction, with "crumple zones" front and rear, its good all-round visibility and its massive braking power mean that the Citroën DS is still one of the safest cars on the road.

Citroën did not hold back on the interiors either, the armchair seats are sumptuous and give the sensation of relaxing in your living room. The elegant shark like shape of the Citroën DS upstages and causes today's mass produced cars to fade into insignificance.