Introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1955, the Citroen DS19 featured a revolutionary body design by Italian industrial designer Flaminio Bertoni and numerous other advanced and just downright fascinating features. A front-engine, front-wheel drive luxury sedan, the DS is well known for its hydraulic power systems throughout, and it was the first mass-produced car with disc brakes.
The initial DS19 model got a refined nose in 1962, which resulted in top speed rising by 5 mph. An ID19 model was also launched in 1957 and was intended to be a more basic and moderately priced model, so it featured conventional braking, steering and clutch instead of the hydraulic systems on the DS as well as a bit less power.
In addition to the four-door sedan including the “Pallas” luxury model, a wagon version was available, as was the rare convertible launched in 1960. Citroen DS Convertibles included the factory “Cabriolet D’Usine” or privately produced two-door versions by Chapron.
If there was one let down with the DS19, it was under the hood. Its 1,911cc three-bearing engine was derived from the old Traction Avant, although the transmission was a nifty 4-speed semi-automatic that uses the hydraulics to actuate the clutch. In 1965, the engine was replaced with a 1,985cc five-bearing engine.
At its launch, the motoring press lavished praise on the DS19’s ride thanks to the hydro-pneumatic suspension. The brakes are highly sensitive but prove to be satisfactory once used to the input pressures required.
Rust is the big enemy of the DS, particularly around the boot area, rear chassis and sills. Care should be taken with corrosion and dents away from these areas as well. The engines and transmissions are robust with many refurbished major components available. The wagon (or estate) models are worth more than the standard sedan, but any Citroen DS19 or ID 19 is much rarer than the later DS21 or DS23. The cabriolets are the most desirable.
When launched the DS was like nothing else on the road, and really did look like something from the future. It is also one of only a handful of Citroen models that made any sort of impact in the United States, and have something of a cult following here.