Gallic Barn Find: 1971 Citroen DS21

A Citroen DS21 is always an interesting find. They’re a bit goofy looking, like a rearranged Dustbuster but always garner high-praise from Citroen aficionados and fans alike. This 1971 example is about as much a barn find as a barn find can be as that’s where it has resided for an extended stay. Time to take a closer look at this unique example of French l’auto. It is located in Winsted, Connecticut, and is available here on eBay for a current bid of $2,800.

The last D21 that I covered was Mike Brewer’s 1971 Safari station wagon, a few months back, so there’s no reason to rehash the DS21’s history. It is worth repeating however, for the sake of perspective, that there were about 84K copies of the DS21 assembled in 1971. That’s mentioned as the seller states that he knows these are rare; they’re not. Maybe uncommonly found on domestic shores in 2020 but not a rare car. The circumstances around how this DS21 ended up in a barn in Connecticut are not revealed.

The seller states that this is a 23K mile example and that’s what the odometer (and I’ll go with the assumption that the speedo and odo are in miles and not kilometers) reads. But is the mileage 23K or 123K? just sayin’. There are no comprehensive images of the interior included, but rust abounds on all of the visible metals surfaces. This example would seem to have been parked in damp conditions with the windows down. The seller claims that the dash and seats are descent though the headliner has become earthbound. What can be seen of the seat upholstery appears to be a maroon shade of a velour type of fabric but there are no complete images included.  The seller adds that the floors are solid – after gauging the interior, I’d want to see for myself. The steering wheel in this Citroen is an interesting piece, it looks like the tiller on the Leakin’ Lena’.

There is no included image of the engine, just the trim tag, and what looks like a windshield wiper motor. But research indicates that it is a 2.2 liter (2,175 CC) in-line, four-cylinder motor that generates about 109 HP and turns the front wheels via a four-speed manual transaxle. There is no evidence of a clutch pedal visible in the interior photos, so the thought is that this transaxle may actually be the four-speed semi-automatic option known as the “hydraulique”. The driver still has to shift the gears manually but there is no clutch pedal interaction. The seller states, “running condition unknown but we think it should run with minor work.” There should be a concern here due to the complexity of Citroen’s hydropneumatic suspension and extensive use of hydraulics. The passage of time, and parked as such, probably hasn’t done those systems any favors.

The body presents pretty well though the seller mentions that this Citroen acquired a dent while departing its barn induced solitary confinement (those door jambs will get you every time if you aren’t careful!) The finish would seem to have some shine to it still, something that a buffing could enhance. There is no obvious evidence of crash damage or rot, just general dust and dirt. That coupled with the images’ lack of entirety, makes the exterior a bit difficult to judge. The trim pieces still look to be in place and the chrome plating on the bumpers appears to be fairing well but the rear bumper has an acquired problem of some sort on the driver’s side, rear corner.

What’s the market for this Citroen DS21? Well, a Citroen fan who sees an upside or maybe this example can serve as a parts car, though this one seems too complete to suffer that fate. The real questions of its health lie with the condition of what’s under the hood. There are five bids tendered and it appears to be two different bidders; without a reserve, that’s really all you need to find a new owner. A Citroen DS21 is so unlikely to be found cruising boulevards any longer, it would be interesting to hear from current or previous owners; what did you think of your Citroen and would you consider buying another?

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  1. David Painter

    Nope. Love the DS. Just not this one.

    Like 1
  2. ras_austin

    Aucun moyen putain.

    Like 1
    • Alan Brase

      Je ne parlez Francais. I like it, too!

    • Matt in LA

      Je suis d’accore, ras_austin et David Painter!

  3. Poppapork

    The only 4-doors that turn me on more are from Czechoslovakia…(Tatra) with that being said this car is already on the east coast where ship freight is cheap, might as well send it to Eastern Europe where labor is cheap and it would get massaged just right!

  4. CCFisher

    The engineer in me finds these cars fascinating. However, that same engineer knows that extended periods of inactivity can cause tremendous deterioration in hydraulic systems.

    Like 2
  5. dave smeaton

    My dad had two of these in the 70s one was the semi automatic and the shifter was the same as this one.You could drive them over speed bumps at 40 m.p.h. and you couldn’t feel the bump,you would hear it but the car was so smooth,unbelievable.My dad was an automotive engineer ,and the engineering in them was the attraction.The sheet metal was so thin,they didn’t live well where salt was used in the winter,on the roads.

    Like 2
  6. Howard A Member

    Nice fish,,,but too far gone. I like French cars, I think they are some of the best built in the world,,,just a bit UNconventional. While the mechanicals, I’ve heard, are very reliable, sitting, for any car, especially this with it’s hydraulics, is the kiss of death. You’d be a fool to try and get this going. Now, if you had a nice one you were driving, I’d think this as a parts car would be well worth it. How often do you see a Citroen in any condition. Just don’t expect “Autoplace” to help you there.

    Like 2
  7. victor Sanchez

    Omlet du fromage se vupley /// couldn’t help myself and I’m sure I spelled it wrong, My wife was ready to kill me because when we went to France the tour guide told us NOT to order in French or they will answere in French. These are strange cars but, the ride is very smooth // good luck to the new owner

    Like 1
  8. Emmanuel

    Well that’s a no-no for me. I’m French, trust my word!
    Those cars are the best French cars ever made, hands down. If anyone reading this comment has the chance, one day, to drive or ride one, just go for it, it is just SPECTACULAR!
    Funny fact, they were so well engineered they could run only with 3 wheels. Yes, you can drive this car with one wheel off on a road!
    This car saved General DE GAULLE’s life, becoming his favorite vehicle.

    Now, this amazing technology comes with a price: a super complex hydraulic suspension system that is, in France, already extremely hard to fix (even for mechanics that worked on those car their whole life).
    This car is also extremely prone to rust.

    Remember as well France has a big history of driving manual transmissions. Still today, 90% of the cars are manual.
    In the 70s, having a car with a “semi-automatic” transmission was a first. Auto transmission wasn’t developed like in the US. This system as well is sophisticated, and fragile.

    If someone decides to buy this car and has to fix hydraulic suspension + semi auto transmission + rust, 7000 miles away from where it’s from (meaning, no parts available in the US, you have to import everything): just for those 3 points, I wish him good luck.

    Hard pass for me. Although those cars are amazing, the amount of work is too big and not worth it. I’d rather buy one nice model in France and import it.

    Like 3
  9. Snafuracer

    It deserves to be saved. DS’s are amazing cars, and far simpler than people think. Mine is a manual but the Citromatic is really nice when set up properly. It’s like the with the dog pound, I CAN’T take them all home!

    Like 4

      Love these cars and worth restoring. Timeless design. Restoration not as complex as people make out. Make sure to use factory hydrolic fluids only. Plastic head light turning mechanism brackets become fragile. New spheres are still available.

  10. Steve Bush Member

    Always liked these and thought they were really innovative and interesting. Unfortunately, agree this one needs too much work and cash invested to be a good buy. If I had the cash, I would go for a DS23 as these at least had decent power. Also, the seller should have taken better pics, including some of the whole car. Lastly, don’t see how the rear driver’s side door was damaged backing out of the barn as this is a relatively short, narrow car with short overhangs, front and rear. Pay attention and use your mirrors!

    • don

      The flipper caused the door damage and likely the rear bumper pulling it out with a cable winch. Judging from the time its spent sitting, I’d say one or more wheels were locked up and the car pulled to one side and hit the garage .

      Like 1
  11. Roy Marson

    I own several Citroens. I currently have a DS 20 Capetown, South africa where I get daily about 5 thumbs up.

    My only concern with this car is rust. It is in the east of US. Mechanically, parts are available with reasonable prices. For a fair price, looks like a good project.

    Like 1
  12. Murray

    “There is no obvious evidence of crash damage or rot, just general dust and dirt.”
    I suggest a trip to the optometrist for you!! There is a massive dent in the driver side read door. The front wing in the same photo also looks to have a scrape on it as well.

  13. Bob McK Member

    23,000 miles? I think not. It looks like 323,000 miles.

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