The Citroën DS is a car that represents ‘50s luxury and a level of nobility that was unheard of in its era. It’s a vehicle that will always be in style, as is the case with any good design.
The DS’s elegant insect-like shape was revealed at the 1955 Paris Motor Show. Citroën cleverly named the car as a play on the French word déesse, meaning ‘goddess’. Its heavenly curves seduced the crowds, and Citroën had received nearly 20,000 pre-orders for the DS by the end of its first day on display.
Nine days later, at the end of the show, over 80,000 people had pre-ordered the car. That number might not seem outrageous in today’s internet shopping age, but in this more simple era, it was unheard of.
One thing is clear: the Citroën DS may not be the fastest or the most expensive car ever made, but it is something special.
The DS became a symbol of French innovation, thanks to advanced tech like its famous hydropneumatic suspension that included a self-leveling function. The suspension could be lowered, giving the car a more sleek and aggressive profile, or it could be lifted to allow for more ground clearance.
It also came with a modernized power steering system, a semi-automatic gearbox and a lightweight fiberglass roof. A wider track at the front reduced understeer.
All of these features were unheard of in 1955. For perspective, we didn’t have color television and even the modern refrigerator was a luxury at this time.
Citroën’s tech history is dotted with innovations that made it famous, and the DS is one of the most seasoned of the automaker’s lineup.
Very few cars have made such enormous leaps in progress in a single model, and for that reason, the DS remained in production for a staggering 20 years. Nearly 1.5-million cars were produced in total, each of which is a beacon of French mid-century ingenuity, style and design.