There’s only one word for it: groundbreaking. When Citroën pulled the cloak off the DS at the 1955 Paris Motor Show, the company literally stunned an automotive world that was still emerging from World War II austerity. A complete departure from designs still mostly rooted in pre-war designs, the DS or “Goddess” as it came to be known because of the French pronunciation of its nomenclature ("DS" is pronounced in French as "Déesse” or goddess–was a futuristic and amazingly sophisticated machine mechanically, and made most other cars obsolete. It was a far cry from Citroën's famous but simple 2CV, and the company took twelve thousand orders for the car that day. It is still, considering its age, an advanced car today, somewhat rare in the USA, and worthy of your consideration as a collectable automobile.
The DS of course has that futuristic streamlined body. Sculpted by Mr. Flaminio Bertoni (see our earlier story on him here) and aeronautical engineer Mr. André Lefèbvre, their direction reflected Citroën’s growing interest in the science (or art?) of aerodynamics. The construction liberally used aluminum and plastic, which is still modern today. Mechanically, the car came packed with other innovations for the time. The DS had a 1.9-liter engine, but it also had front wheel drive, power steering, front disc brakes, exterior turn indicators at eye-level, and headlights that swivelled when you turn. Still not impressed? How about the hydro-pneumatic suspension system then? Nitrogen gas automatically adjusts the height of the car to keep it level, and endows it with a “magic carpet ride.” This suspension may have changed the course of history in 1962, when French President Charles De Gaulle was riding from the Elysee Palace to Orly Airport in his DS. Terrorist gunmen opened fire on the car in an assassination attempt, and more than a few of the 140 bullets shattered the car's rear window and deflated all four of its tires. Due to the car's suspension system however, the President's driver was able to accelerate out of a skid and flee to safety.