Fearless Frenchie: 1961 Citroën ID-19

1961 Citroen ID-19

The cars that tend to catch our eyes often fall into two categories: specimens that are destined for curator-like care to ensure their history is preserved, and long-forgotten projects that neither run nor drive and often have more than a few rodents living inside them. Rarely do we find cars that are undoubtedly projects yet still see use as a daily driver. Rarer still is when that car is one of the more stylish forms of French machinery ever to grace these shores. Thanks to Barn Finds reader chevy55 for spotting this ’61 Citroen ID-19 on California’s craigslist for $3,500.

Citroen ID-19 Interior

When you look at this car, it’s possible to see every parking lot scuffle, battle scars from an apartment move and perhaps even the time a jilted lover dragged a knife through a seating surface. What I’m getting at is the multi-colored body panels and the virtually non-existent interior can be seen as memories of owners past rather than cosmetic blemishes. At least that’s how I feel about antique cars that are still driven daily rather than languishing in a leaky garage or having more contact with a feather-duster than a human hand. This one has character in spades and it shows.

Citroen ID-19 Engine

Fortunately for the next owner, there’s solid evidence that this ID-19’s survival is more than just a stroke of good luck. Unlike its faster and more luxurious sibling, the DS, the ID-19 was an affordable alternative which resulted in some of the mechanical complexities being stripped out of the car in favor of more ordinary systems. The DS featured a bevy of hydraulically-operated or assisted components, such as the clutch, steering and power brakes. The only hydraulic system retained by the ID-19 was the suspension, one of my favorite features of these classy Citroens. Although the ID-19 was down on power compared to the DS, the resulting weight savings from its simpler mechanical configuration practically made it a non-issue.

Citroen ID-19

So, how difficult would it be to bring this one back to showroom condition? The ID-19 also featured a more spartan interior with some unique trim pieces that may make its restoration a bit of treasure hunt. But it’s a running, driving car with a clean title that you can drive home today, something that can’t always be said about vintage Citroen projects. Would you keep this ID-19 in its current form, with multi-colored body panels and leopard-print seat covers, or find a new interior and tackle the bodywork? Personally, the first thing I’d do is toss the fake sheepskins! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Been there, done that. Got a “good deal” on a DS-21 and loved driving it. Hated everything else. The Ds are notorious rust traps, and on the more complex versions — mine had the hydraulic manual transmission and all the brake-fluid-propelled extras — when they hydraulics fail (and they will) you have an instant non-driver and (usually) a very wet driveway. Hunting parts can be time-consuming, too.

    But oh, what a sweet driver! Smooth, relatively quiet and a great touring car. Beautiful, too, And the old saw about the driver not knowing a tire was flat was true; I learned that from experience.

    I have promised myself I’ll again own one when my bank balance is an eight-digit number. Not before: I really can’t see depending on one as a daily driver these days….

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Ray, thanks for sharing. I can only imagine what a mess a leaky one must make. But as you said, when it’s running smoothly, I’ll bet it’s flat-out heavenly to drive.

  2. jim s

    does anyone offer a conversion to shocks/springs? after dealing with the hydraulics in a Rolls i would be interested in one of these only if such a conversion could be done. i think this is going to need a lot of work but sure would be fun to drive. nice find

    • Don Andreina

      hehehe. It’s not quite the same thing but one of the reasons I bought my MB W116 280SE was because the previous owner had taken out the self-levelling rear susp. and replaced it with a conventional set-up.

  3. Doyler

    Gotta love those seat covers

  4. THIBEAULT

    Gotta love that chapped front end…..too much French Kissing!!!

  5. jd sport

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  6. Tim H

    I like them now better then when I had one in 1970. There was no love at my High school for Guys with odd looking foreign cars. I rather like the shape of them now.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      That had to have stood out quite a bit in a row of Novas, Mustangs and Valiants! But didn’t the ladies love the self-leveling suspension? Makes it easier for them to step in and out, ya know.

  7. Rick

    It is precisely the numerous hydraulic systems that were the bane of the DS, especially the ones that made to the states and is why most of those went to the crusher long ago.

  8. dave

    man that thing is beat down

  9. GlenK

    I looked into restoring one and after doing some research and reading, finding parts for some of the older cars are tough. So doing this this car over is not for the faint of heart.

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