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There are some classic cars which just don’t require much of an introduction. Okay, I’ll acknowledge that among ViaRETRO readers, that probably does apply to a whole lot of classic cars. But it’s still more true for some classics than it is for others, and this week’s Prime Find is precisely one such icon.

In a Europe still recovering from the Second World War, the new Citroën DS19 astonished the whole automotive industry when it was launched at the Paris Motor Show in October 1955. There was simply nothing which came even close to comparing – neither with its elegant and futuristic design nor with the innovative technology. It was an immediate success, setting a new record in number of deposits taken during its launch – a record which stood for more than 60 years.

The design of the DS set new standards for what could be achieved with a still highly functional saloon. Except for Robert Opron’s redesign of the nose for the ’68 model year (yes, that was when it got those funky swivelling headlights), Flaminio Bertoni’s original design remained remarkably unchanged during its 20 year lifespan from ’55 to ’75. But it was more than just a pretty face as the hydropneumatic suspension was every bit as ground-breaking as the body design. Consider that most cars at the time of its launch still made due with a live rear axle of sorts. Even a conventional independent rear suspension was regarded as something quite advanced. As such, the DS also managed to set new standards for ride quality, comfort and even handling. However, the downside was of course the cost of developing such a stunning automobile. Citroën ran out of funds and were sadly unable to ever give the DS the aircooled flat-6 engine which they had been planning. The somewhat agricultural 4-cylinder engines were always a bit of a let-down in what was otherwise a true tour de force of automotive ingenuity and design.

Yet, despite settling for the 4-cylinder engines, the DS was still a massive 60% more expensive than its predecessor, the Traction Avant. Citroën quickly realised that they needed to offer the buying public a cheaper variant, so already in 1957, the ID19 was launched. The DS and the ID a really very similar, as they share the exact same body. However, the ID was slightly less luxurious on the inside, and while sharing the same engine, the ID was also slightly down on power compared with the DS. But the biggest difference was in the simpler hydraulic system fitted to the ID. While the signature hydropneumatic suspension was luckily retained, the hydraulic system on the ID didn’t fed the steering or the clutch, so ID drivers had to accept unassisted steering and a normal clutch serving a conventional transmission. With these cost-cutting measures, the ID was launched with a 25% saving compared to the DS.

It is one such ID19 which caught my eye this week. Being of 1960 vintage, it’s a relatively early car. Interestingly, it’s also a RHD car but still Parisian built rather than from Citroën’s UK assembly plant in Slough. For once, there’s actually a detailed and well written description with this advert, as the Yorkshire-based private vendor explains about this ID’s intriguing history. Apparently, while the Citroën is now in his possession, it is still technically a one owner car. The seller goes on to explain that the ID19 has only covered 59,000 miles and comes with a fabulously documented history from the naval engineer who kept meticulous records during his ownership. It was restored at great expense approximately 13 years ago and still presents in very original condition with its factory blue interior still intact and even the original radio still installed. Here are some pictures borrowed from the advert:

Having only covered a mere 1,000 miles since that restoration, the ID19 has now been recommissioned by a DS-specialist, and despite being MOT exempt in the UK, it has just been put through one without advisories. The seller goes on to say that everything, including the hydraulic suspension, works as it should. Even with it being the lower spec ID, with such history and with DS prices having increased steadily over the past decade or so, the asking price of £ 17,995 – currently equating to approximately Euro 20,900 – seems quite fair to me. Needless to say though, as with any classic car, a thorough pre-purchase inspection should always be performed before any money changes hands. If you’re tempted, you’ll find the full advert here: 1960 Citroën ID19

 

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

3 Responses

  1. jakob356

    Nice find.

    By going towards this century a few years, you can get almost the same good classic looks in the “in-between model / series deux” (until 1967), like the two metallic gray ones pictured above. You can get wheels in inches instead of millimeters, and the green hydraulic fluid instead of the red that need changing rather often, making your classic car life a lot easier, and cheaper.

    Of course one of the original ones is the choice of enthusiasts, but most non-Citroën owners can’t tell the difference between one from before and after 1963. Everybody knows the big facelift to the covered headlights in late 1967.

    Reply
  2. Tony Wawryk

    From an era when Citroën consistently made innovative and interesting cars, the DS is one that has always made me stare and go “wow!”. It still looks like it just landed from a galaxy far far away even now, never mind the advanced tech built into the car. My favourite models are the post-1967 ones with the faired in directional headlights (which were banned in the US), and yet I’m not sure I could ever buy one, and even less sure why, perhaps I’m slightly intimidated by it – I’m sure all good ones still around are well-sorted and reliable; Søren, you have one, I think – what’s your ownership experience been like?

    Reply
  3. jakob356

    Keep the hydraulic pipes and fittings in reasonable working order, just like you would with brake and clutch lines on a “normal” car. Of course keep an eye on the hydraulic pump and reservoir from time to time, but it is not worse than checking your AC belts or ATF level on another car. The engine is big and sturdy almost like a Volvo “B” block, with almost the same not too impressive gas mileage.. The bodywork and electrics are made for southern Europe, so some extra protection and updates are needed to make it reliable in moist countries. Being french, where the comfortable driving experience matters more than the techniques behind it, you will find some parts placed in strange difficultly accessible places. I can’t speak for the semi automatic or the fuel injection, as mine is an early ’67 ID.

    Reply

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