The Weird 2 Project: 1969 Citroen DS21

Sometimes, the license plate is as interesting as the car it’s attached to. The plate on this 1969 Citroen ZX DS21 spells out “Weird 2,” which could indicate there’s another oddball in the original owner’s collection with the plate “Weird 1.” Regardless, this automatic transmission-equipped DS21 here on eBay appears largely complete despite being in storage since 1989. There’s a starting bid of $6,900 and no activity at the moment. 

I wish I could tell you I was an expert on these French sedans, but I actually turned to an earlier post written by fellow Barn Finds writer Jamie for some background info: it turns out this model year is a touch more desirable due to its improved hydraulic fluids. Resuscitating one of these exotic art-deco sedans isn’t necessarily a cheap undertaking, but an enthusiastic fan base for these Citroens ensures you’ll always be able to reach out to a specialist for help tracking down an obscure part or two. Most important, however, is the seller’s assertion that this Citroen has had “no rust ever!”

The injected 2.1L engine looks largely undisturbed, but how that translates to what level of refurbishment it will need is unknown. The DS cars were built for smooth, fast executive transport, and even had a successful motorsports history. Using this DS21 to its full potential could range from participating in road rallies to attending weekly show-and-shines. These DS cars are always a crowd-pleaser with its pneumatic suspension that could raise and lower the car on command. Given how low this one currently sits, I would say the suspension will be one of the more expensive projects for the next owner of this Citroen.

Unlike the similar car featured by Jamie, this DS has a very nice interior – in fact, I don’t even think it will need reupholstering. If that’s indeed the case, this is a major cost savings for the next owner. The dash shows some signs of deterioration and since it doesn’t yet run, we don’t even know if the automatic transmission will function as intended. Still, starting with a rust-free example is one of the best ways to take on a Citroen DS restoration, so hopefully “Weird 2” will be brought back to life soon.

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Minor point, Jeff: this Cit “sits low” because the engine is off and the hydraulic system — which controls the suspension — is depressurized. To coin a phrase, “they all do it!” At worst, it will need the suspension “spheres” rebuilt, which a number of specialists can do for not all that much money. Not rocket science.

    Be that as it may, you can count on having to go through the whole hydraulic system to clean, replace hoses and put in new seals. Otherwise, no brakes, steering, suspension or shifting. The engine is pretty straightforward. I know nothing about the F.I., as my older DS had a Solex carb.

    If I had space, I’d love to take this on, even though I think the seller is being over-enthusiastic price-wise. Once functional, these are wonderful cars that ride like nothing else on the road. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind making a “package deal” to get the Ciot and the Renault R10 (or is it an R8?) sitting next to it!

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    • Chas

      Definitely an R8, which must be the one with the WEIRD1 license plate!

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  2. Wally

    Red fluid car. Not original interior. If not rusty is definitely worth saving. There are several experts in the USA who are capable of taking this on and there are some experts who should not. Choose your service provider wisely and check references. Expect to spend some money as red fluid hydraulics take more work than green fluid cars. Once finished, this car will the smoothest, buttery ride due to red fluid hydraulics. These are like no other car, especially with the semi automatic gear change which this car has.
    Wally
    Grand Central Citroën
    Redlands, California

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  3. Luki

    I don’t think this one is fuel injected.

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  4. Jean Lecointe

    Hi
    This DS21 is no automatic but with an automatic cluch and hydraulic powered gears shiffting.
    Not very easy to rebuild after a long time of storage.
    BUT the very most important on any DS or ID is the abscence of rust.
    A non rusted DS or ID can be the driving experience of your life.
    All parts are available in Europe, Do not fear the hydraulic which is complex but well documented.
    $6900 seems a lot considering the work to do.
    Good luck to the future owner.
    The engine is not very powerful buf very strong.
    The one showed is fitted with a double barrell Solex carb which is easy to rebuild and to tune.
    Welcome to the Citroen’s fanatics

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  5. Bruce Best

    I have ridden in a SM from about 1971 which has a similar suspension to this one and going down a twisty road it was the strangest thing, for it was as if we where just sitting there and the world was moving around us. Until i saw the rail road track coming up and when we went over them with out any fuss at all. That is when I became a believer in this system.

    What I did not know because I was looking at the Tachometer and not the speedometer was that we were not doing 35 miles per hour but instead we were doing between 75 and 80. The driver owned the shop for these and Maserati in the Kansas City area and this was his test track. He knew the road and there were no blind spots or cross streets to worry about.

    If you want to make your friends think you are crazy restore this or any other Citroen. Then watch their jaws drop as the ride in it and understand you were crazy as a fox. Slightly under powered but amazing cars.

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    • RayT Member

      I remember taking a couple of automotive designers out to lunch in my DS. They raved about the ride quality, and each wanted to drive it. Which, of course, I was happy to let them do….

      It wasn’t until we were changing places after the second one drove that I noticed a flat tire. It must have gone down while we were in the restaurant. None of us noticed; the suspension had worked exactly as it was supposed to, and kept the car level and riding smoothly.

      It gave me a chance to demonstrate the ease with which one can change a tire on a DS. Minimal effort required!

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  6. junkman Member

    I had one of these 69 DS21 Pallas’s for 15 years, in that time I redid the entire car except the transmission. Rebuilt the engine went through the hydraulics (green fluid) installed European head lights with the high beams that turn with the steering. Absolutely the smoothest riding car ever, at any speed. These cars go faster than you’d think, cruise at 120 all day and get 24 mpg. If you get a flat and the spare is dead you can drive it home on three wheels, Spent our wedding money on a paint job. There are some memories!!

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  7. Jeffro

    Here’s a reason to love this site. Normally, I wouldn’t give this car any attention. After reading the comments, my interest is peaked. Thanks guys!

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    • St. Ramone de V8

      My thoughts exactly!

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  8. Al

    I remember my Dad considering buying a DS21, I didn’t like it because, the steering wheel only had one spoke. The way the spoke hung out of the column, made me want to gag and barf.
    The comment “The engine is not very powerful but very strong” is interesting as I saw a DS21 in Jasper National Park in Canada, pulling a 21′ Airstream trailer.
    I later that day saw it heading toward Banff at the top of Bow Summit (6850 ft)

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  9. David Lundquist

    A minor point perhaps but would feel a lot better if there was a picture of the front end.

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  10. Ed Williams

    Always liked ’em but never had one. I used to drop into the Citroen dealership on Sepulveda Blvd. in West L.A. and learned something about them. I loved the super comfortable seats they had! My friend sat in one there one day and as he did he went “Ah-h-h-h!” Never had one because I couldn’t afford one.

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  11. JW454

    Nice little car. However… I’d rather have the aqua Renault hiding next to it. I had a ’69 but I really didn’t appreciate it then as I would now.

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  12. Ken Nelson

    Jeff, this car doesn’t have the better, later fluid. Wally’s right. This one still uses DOT3 brake fluid. It’s an early ’69 – halfway thru ’69 the fluid was changed to LHM or green mineral fluid. Any time you see the gas spring balls painted black, you’re looking at a brake fluid car. If the fluid tank and balls are green – then it’s a later LHM/green mineral fluid car. Brake fluid cars ride better, but are more subject to hydraulic system corrosion issues due to brake fluid, which absorbs water out of the air. Doesn’t matter what fluid version it is – still the best damn ride in the world – at any speed. Closest you can get to flying without leaving the ground and more fun and comfort. Oh, and for everyone’s info, a GM exec engineer once told me he and another exec imported a ’57 DS19 – the earlier series cars introduced at the ’55 Paris auto show – to tear it down & study it. Their cost accountants & engineers came back with a report saying that if GM built this car the way the French did, it would COST GM $10,000 just to build it – then they’d have to tack on a profit margin, so the cost to buy it if made this way would easily have topped $11-12K – and that’s in 1957 Bucks! Until you have personally taken one of these apart, you’d never believe how well built they are and how sophisticated the engineering is. And it’ll run when all the IC chips are dead.

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  13. dik s

    Hello folks,
    after reading all this comments I needed to comment too.
    I was 11 when I saw the first DS and was fallen in love with this car immediately.
    I was 20 when I had my first one, a 1956 DS semiautomatic.
    In the first ride I got after 200 m (yes, really that short) an accident as I could not find the brake pedal when the street corner came. That car had no brake pedal, only a little button on the floor. So car was totalloss.
    I got my second one in 1972. That was an interim model from 1967. It still had the round headlights, BUT ALREADY THE LHM FLUID. Citroen changed from brake fluid to LHM in 1967, not 1969.
    I had some more after that one. Indeed, for this cars, top speed and cruising speed were the same. In that time I drove over 80 000 km/year and there was only one place for the acceleration pedal. ON THE FLOOR. In that time there was not yet a max speed in the Netherlands, neither in the rest of Europe.
    In total I had 6 of them, including the DS 23 IE.
    Yes, they were strong. I was building at my house and there was a brick factory 3 km away from me. I could buy scrapstones for almost nothing. I removed the seats and put the car full with bricks. Then started and of course the car did not rise, due to the heavy load. Then I took bricks out till the car went up.
    700 kg of bricks in the car. In that way I transported tons of bricks
    For me they were simple cars to maintain.
    But then I got my first ride in a CX. Quite a difference. Compared to that one, the DS drove like a lorry.
    I love the suspention.

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  14. bob S

    More intrigued by the DS than almost any car. The comments have me wanting to hear more. Jay Leno has a great episode on the DS and SM.

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  15. Howard A Member

    Most will agree, the “Fish” ( haven’t heard it called that yet) is a most unusual car. I see the radio is not for the driver ( way over there) Superb car, I’m sure. French build great cars, and if this is what you grew up with, most of the features will seem normal, but growing up in the USA, a coil spring does essentially the same thing as that elaborate suspension system, which I’m sure works fine, just seems like a lot of extra hardware most aren’t familiar with. Too far out there for me. I just couldn’t get past the one spoke steering wheel, for starters.

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    • D Legeai

      …yeah Howard, one spoke steering wheel is only the most obvious, then the starter is integral part of the shifter in the Citromatic, the brake pedal ain’t no pedal at all, instead it’s a rubber “mushroom” that one barely touches for it to do its job, then there is the self centering steering, the swiveling headlights, self leveling suspension…..each person getting in the car, the car gets lower because of the weight, then sutomatically levels itself, what about driving through rough terrain? Set your suspension on a higher level and drive on! For fun: remove one of the rear wheels and drive on 3 wheels, really! Front wheel drive of course, fenders come off easily, front and back…3 or 4 bolts, can’t remember……all of this and more in 1955! That one of the reasons Citroen guys as a whole are real enthusiasts.

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  16. junkman Member

    One of my friends said it looks like a vacuum cleaner going backwards.

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  17. Dubois

    My Father had many DS when I was young,my brother ,sister and I were always carsick at each journey .
    I got one ,the same DS 21 carbs at my 35 years and sold it one year later after :
    a spark plug jumped trow the bonnet,the passenger door kept opening without prevent and at least the bonnet opened at full speed on the highway.
    My wife asked me to sell it

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    • D Legeai

      ….yeah, the “workmanship” on Citroens in general was never a subject of praise!…engineering…YES!…..c’est la vie!

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  18. Wayne S.K.

    Ben Mears drove a “CIT-TROWEN” as I recall. Drove it cross-country twice. With Mark Petrie riding shotgun…

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  19. Ken Nelson

    Dik S, you’re obviously not in the US – Citroen was forbidden by the US Dept of Transportation (DOT) from using the mineral (LHM) fluid UNTIL midway thru 1969, which is why I wrote what I did above. Remember, here in the US we have a lot of idiots in control of govt. and those in the DOT shut down a lot of European imports in 1972, which was when Citroen left the US – it was too expensive for Citroen to change their fantastic car to meet STUPID US standards in a lot of aspects. They sold so few cars here that the cost was prohibitive. And there are a lot of minor differences between US import cars and the REAL versions that Europe got.
    Two of the worst screwups of our DOT were – the prevention of the original rotating headlights with glass covers from coming into the US, along with the US mandate to change the inboard front brake DISCS from the original steel or whatever it was, to cheap cast iron that wears out. Most DSs have worn-out front discs from year ‘168 on – where 100k miles on any of those later cars took the discs down in thickness by maybe 1/8 inch or worse – making the more worn ones a bit dangerous, and changing the inboard discs is a job you do not want to have to do –
    And Howard A – a spring suspension on a US car cannot do what the DS hydropneumatic system can – can you drive any other car on 3 wheels? Can you put 1000 lbs of load in the trunk of a “normal” US sedan and have it ride level and smoothly? Can the US suspension jack itself up to allow you to change two wheels simultaneously? Does any US sedan have about 10-12 inches of vertical wheel travel? I think not. BTW, every suspension arm on the DS/SM/ OR lowly 2CV pivots not on cheap rubber bushings that deteriorate with time, but tapered ROLLERBEARINGS. And its details like that that keep the steering and handling of the DS CONSTANT over the life of the car. Once the front wheels on a DS are aligned, you can forget about having to do the job ever again. I think I’ve done it once in 53 yrs, and only on one out of maybe 30 cars I’ve had at one time or another.
    I’ve heard of some people experiencing carsickness in a DS, but it’s very rare, and could easily be fixed on the early cars with changeable dampers. The ride motions of a DS are considerably different from most cars, and for some strange reason it does bother some people – maybe because they’re used to much bouncier suspensions. The DS does feel like a boat occasionally but it still is the most comfortable suspension around.

    And Dubois, if your DS had all those problems, it must have been very poorly maintained or worked on by incompetents, which does happen. Sparkplugs thru the hood is a sure sign of terrible mechanical servicing, along with doors coming open by themselves, and if the hood flew up it was either the owner’s fault or a mechanics or other service people – I know because I’ve wrapped two hoods over the roof of two of my own cars, and it was all due to my carelessness – no one elses! Do NOT blame the cars for stuff like that – it just isn’t true.

    And re the vacuum cleaner/fish appearance or my take – big clam/shark, etc., here’s something to think about: Around 1967 I came across a Northwestern Univ. aerodynamic study for maybe a PhD thesis, showing how a wind tunnel experiment using a variety of the sportscars and other conveyances of the era as subjects, showed the DS to have a lower coefficient of drag than a Porsche 911. ‘Nuff said? Not to mention that the last worldwide comparison of auto designs named the Citroen DS as the “most beautiful shape ever” for a car. Sure we all have different preferences, but very few cars cause folks to stop and study them when they see one as often as a DS.

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    • D Legeai

      …see guys….I told you Citroenists are Enthusiasts…….I’m one of them!

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  20. Tarek Sharaf

    Hello Jeff,
    Really strange without front end view seems questionable?

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  21. Dubois

    I Ken Nelson,here in France,DS where as much as Ford F150 in the States and 25 years ago not collectible cars but old luxury cars easy affordable and cheap

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