DS 19 de 1955 Chassis n°32. 69780 Km.
MODEL:The genius of this car is that it appeared in 1955 equipped with:
- Hydropneumatic suspension with a height corrector on all 4 wheels.
- Assisted steering and brakes
- Hydraulically operated clutch and gearbox (4 speeds sited on the wheel, lack of clutch pedal)
- Front disc brakes
The bodywork and styling are also revolutionary:
- Aerodynamics: lack of grille, a smooth surface over the whole underside of the car
- Spaciousness – a great deal of rear legroom
- Comfort: exceptional seats and Dunlopillo carpets
- Equipment: single-spoke steering wheel, futuristic dashboard, a proper heater, foot-operated parking brake
- Even the fixation of the road wheels with a single central bolt is a novelty.
- By contrast, the engine is a well-proven 1911cc 4 cylinder 3 bearing engine from the Traction, 75Ch (approx 73bhp) at 4500rpm, which was kept until 1961.
The DS no32 has a number of details that differentiate it from all the 1,500,000 DS’s. Here are the main ones:The production lines did not start until February 1956. So this DS is entirely built by hand. Therefore the majority of mechanical parts and bodywork are stamped with an assembly number.Like all the first 200 made, it does not possess a lever to manually adjust ride height (this appeared in February 1956), and so lacks jacking points on the chassis ‘longerons’. A wheel change meant the use of a traditional jack (shown in the nearby display cabinet).The lock is found on the front right door (nothing on the left), just like on the Traction, up to October 1956.The metalwork of the underside of the car is striated, up to May 1957.The exhaust is central and ends in the so-called ‘fish tail’ trim, up to Feb 58.The trim of the reflector of the rear wing has a dash of red, up to May 58.The steering wheel is wrapped in a string of vinyl before it becomes a ribbon in April 57.
Production for 1955: 175 cars.
HISTORY: The DS no32 was delivered in October 1955 to the Minodier garage in Valence as their demonstration vehicle. It at first wore W garage number-plates and was intended to be eventually returned to the factory. The insistence, however, of an important client (the director of the Ladreyt transport company) led to it being sold with the registration number it has carried for all its subsequent life. After 2 years of use and a number of hydraulic problems, it was taken back to the Minodier garage with 10,000kms on the clock.
The mechanic, M. Savel, prepares the DS for the second time for sale. In 1958, a grocer from Valence (M. Maisonny) ordered a 2CV van. It was routine to wait a number of years to take ownership of a new vehicle. In order to benefit from a reduced waiting time, he was advised to buy a second-hand vehicle. So he took ownership of DS n° 32. The car’s use was purely leisure and holidays taken in the Var. The rest of the time, it was always kept in a garage.
IN 1970, the car showed 32,000kms. M Maisonny decides to buy a new GS. These first GS’s were long-awaited, with clients forming a long queue to take ownership. Citroen-Valence only offered 100 francs to rake back this old DS, without interest. Our grocer declined the offer and kept the DS up to 1984. A practice existing at the time was to canvas clients in order to offer them a new car. This was done by M Kaminski, the Citroen dealer from Romans. He recognized the interest of the vehicle and took it back for the sum of 14,000francs.
He would sort the leaking fluid problems resulting from the prolonged rest period, and re-did the entire paintwork, in order to display it next to an SM in his garage in the centre of Romans. Having learnt of the existence of this DS, I visited this old dealership, but M Kaminski was not wanting to sell. In summer 1991, I was working in Norway and this was when a Dutchman called Martin Boersma took the DS back to Eindhoven. It remained in a museum for 13 years with this as the lone full-size car and hundreds of model DS’s. It never had the opportunity to be driven again.
Finally, in December 2004, I succeeded in taking back this pearl and putting on display in its country of origin. Luckily for me, it was never registered in Holland and so keeps its registration from the first day. After this long period of immobilisation, everything was seized, but I had to prepare the car quickly to allow it to appear in an article of “L'Auto-Journal” to celebrate 50 years of the DS. Since then, it is serviced and goes out each autumn as the museum is closed.
Ps: Contrary to what has been written in the press, this DS has never belonged to the Michelin family, I have made thorough enquiries by meeting and questioning all the persons mentioned above.