SEP 11, 2013

The History of Citroën: Part 3

So far we have looked at the early history of Citroën and the iconic H van, now it’s about time we looked in more depth at the Citroën DS! In 1957 the French philosopher Roland Barthes wrote:

'The D.S. - the 'Goddess' - has all the features ..... of one of those objects from another universe which have supplied fuel for the neomania of the eighteenth century and that of our own science-fiction: the Deesse is first and foremost a new Nautilus.'

Barthes was comparing the Citroën DS to the underwater vehicle as imagined by Jules Verne in his novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. This goes to show just how revolutionary the DS was for its time. At the time of its introduction to the public in 1950s Paris, most of the cars available were black and had running boards, so the DS made a much-needed, refreshing change.

Post-World War Two Europe needed to have its confidence restored, and the design of the DS heralded that confidence for many. The Italians were leading the way with continental design in terms of fashion and furniture, so it was entirely fitting that one of the designers of the DS was Flaminio Bertoni, a keen artist and sculptor who had trained in sheet metal working. He collaborated with Andre Lefebvre, who had a background in aircraft design. Their rough drawings were translated into the beautiful automotive sculpture that we know and love as the DS.

Furniture designers of the time were beginning to experiment with new materials such as fibreglass, plastic and aluminium, combining them with traditional materials like wood. The design of the DS incorporated the trend in materials, which automatically propelled the look and feel of the car forward by ten years. It was the first use of fibreglass, aluminium and plastics in a mass produced motor vehicle.

Driving a DS now, around 50 years after its first introduction, is much the same as driving a modern vehicle in terms of driver comfort. The Citroën DS is an incredibly practical classic car to own and run. They comfortably seat the driver and four passengers, who are all afforded an incredibly comfortable journey, much like travelling on a cloud.

If properly cared for and maintained, a Citroën DS is capable of excellent mileage. They don’t come with mod-cons like air conditioning or noise suppression but many people still consider them their first choice for everyday practical transportation. The DS truly is a classic car that has stood the test of time in terms of performance and popularity.

Created on 11th September 2013
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