Just as it had done 21 years previously with the revolutionary ‘Traction Avant’, Citroën stunned the world again in 1955 with the launch of the strikingly styled ‘DS’. Beneath the shark-like newcomer’s aerodynamically efficient, low-drag bodyshell there was all-independent, self-levelling, hydro-pneumatic suspension; plus power-operated brakes, clutch and steering. No European car would match the DS’s ride quality for several years, the fundamental soundness of Citroën’s ahead-of-its-time hydro-pneumatic suspension being demonstrated by its survival in present-day top-of-the-range models. The DS’s original 1,911cc, overhead-valve, long-stroke engine was replaced in 1966 by a short-stroke 1,985cc unit, also available in 2,175cc and 2,347cc versions, while other DS developments included swivelling headlights, fuel injection and a five-speed gearbox.
Other models offered alongside the original DS were the ID (a simplified, cheaper version), the cavernous Safari estate and the two-door Décapotable (convertible), the latter created by the celebrated Parisian coachbuilder Henri Chapron. The arrival of the Citroën DS in 1955 presented Chapron with a fresh opportunity that would result in his name being forever linked with this remarkable car.
His first convertibles were produced independently of Citroën but the factory eventually gave the project its blessing, the factory-approved Décapotables being built on the longer, stronger chassis of the ID Break (Estate). In total, 1,365 (factory) convertibles were made with either the DS 19 or DS 21 engine between 1960 and 1971, while Chapron built a further 389 of his own, the last in 1973.
This delightful Citroën DS19 has been nicely restored and performs well with suspension, brakes and steering all operating correctly. In the last year or so the Chapron has benefitted from much love and care courtesy of DS specialist Citroen Classics of London. DS Cabriolets are highly prized by collectors, and this example, finished in metallic Bordeaux Red with black leather trim, must rank as one of the nicest we have seen.