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Quonset Hut Find: 1963 Citroen DS19 Break

The Citroen DS19 Break, or wagon, is a rare version of an already rare car. However, rare does not always translate to high values, and the unusual French car requires a passionate owner to be brought back to life. The good news is this long-roof Citroen looks remarkably solid which could justify its eventual restoration. Look at the rockers and edges of the fenders – not a spot of rust that I can see. And if you’re not moved by its shocking level of completeness, then just get lost in the romance of finding anything remotely cool and hiding out in a rural Quonset hut. Find it here on craigslist in Aloha, Oregon with a $6,500 asking price.

For continued amazement, look at the rear hatch struts – they still hold the tailgate open! The rear end of the DS19 wagon is one of the more interesting designs to come out of the French company, with the stacked taillights, the subtle fins, and the huge rear gate that seemingly allows more than half of the rear bodywork to open and allow for incredible access to the rear compartment. Like all DSs, the low-slung chassis causes a visual double-take as it looks like the funky French wagon is riding on a set of cheaply cut springs, but I suspect it has more to do with a deflated hydropneumatic suspension system.

The seller claims the interior is in surprisingly good condition, with it being described as “usable” as-is. The rest of the cockpit may require a bit more work but it’s entirely possible the issues we’re looking at are just superficial in nature; you never know what’s possible with a damp cloth and some willpower. Despite the complicated nature of these French oddities, the cockpit seems relatively tame with not much in the way of electronic systems or components that could pose serious roadblocks to pursuing a light restoration of this car; it’s more the complexities underneath that could stop you in your tracks. That, or the lack of parts availability.

The DS is a non-runner, which comes as little surprise. The car’s location in the Oregon town of Aloha makes me wonder if it’s from the same seller who seemingly purchased the remains of a defunct shop operation that was loaded with classic European cars, with a heavy emphasis on British automobiles. I am almost positive those vehicles were also in Aloha, and a distinctive Citroen wagon is among the vehicle profiles I recall seeing in the dusty workshop photos. Regardless, this looks like a compelling restoration project for anyone who has found the intriguing style and engineering of a classic Citroen too hard to resist.

Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    I agree Jeff this car gives me a sense of familiarity from a past BarnFind review. As strange and quirky as the estate version of the DS is I still like the sedan better with the taper in the back and the high mount turn signals. I will someday own a DS, GS, or a Ami because life is too short to be ordinary. One thing for sure is this car may have a solid chassis but it’s going to need everything. Good thing is you can find everything you need to bring this back.

    Like 10
    • John Eder

      “Life is too short to be ordinary.” At 70, I have yet to get a tattoo, but I may have to reconsider…

      Second runner up, spoken by a former local politician to the police when they found him in his boxers looking in a neighbor’s window late at night: “In hindsight, perhaps it would have been better to have my pants on.”

      Like 5
      • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

        @John Eder

        I got my first tattoo at 60. I now have 6. Go for it!

        Like 1
  2. HoA Howard A ( since 2014) Member

    I say, gut the thing, sell the parts back to the French, and graft that Corvette chassis under it. They are such neat cars, I just couldn’t imagine trying to service it. Oh yeah, Corvette power, dig this, Frenchy!

    Like 7
    • angliagt angliagt Member

      Hmmmm,I wonder where you would ever find a Corvette
      chassis for sale?

      Like 5
  3. Cadmanls Member

    Where did they sell these cars? As a kid growing up in a small rural town in what they consider the Midwest, rarely did you see anything like this on the road. Later went to college and occasionally some professor would drive one. Never did see a dealership that sold these cars. Have to admit though the Chevy and Pontiac even Ford dealerships were where the cars were. A Studebaker was a mainstream car compared to these!

    Like 3
    • HoA Howard A ( since 2014) Member

      That’s a good point, I agree. Even in a big city like Milwaukee, rarely did one see ANY foreign car, much less a Citroen. Milwaukee was/is a college town and like you say, the only place one might see anything unusual. From what I gather, there were no Citroen dealers, as such, and had to be acquired though a dealer that had connections or sold other foreign cars. Many times, obscure foreign cars were like a sideline to American cars. A Pontiac dealer sold Renaults and believe how Subaru got it’s start at some Olds dealers. There was a dealer, Kaufmann Motor Cars, that dealt with the exotics, Ferrari, and such, but never a stand alone Citroen dealer, that I remember. I suppose he could have got a Citroen for someone. The occasion probably never came up.

      Like 5
      • Ken Nelson Member

        Howard A, I used to haunt the Highwood Illinois Citroen dealer – off rte 41 N of the Chicago burbs in the late ’60s & thru ’70s. A&J Northshore Citroen was the only dealer in Illinois, altho I’d heard way back then that there was another Citroen dealer somewhere around Chicago. We had a good club in Chicago – lots of good car meets and shows. I was Pres of the club twice – once around ’68, and later around ’77.

        Our club had the only “booby prize” awarded in any car club that we heard of. The prize went monthly to the person who pulled the worst stunt or screwup with his/her car. Since the hydropneumatically suspended DS/ID cars used nitrogen gas-filled spheres as springs instead of steel, and were shaped like old farm smudgepots, we took the top half of one sphere including its filler screw, painted them body color, and mounted the half shell atop a nice block of maple wood. A recognition plaque was glued to the front, and each month, whoever won the booby got his/her name engraved on the brass plaque. It was great for a laugh, and to this day I don’t know where that booby is – but it definitely traveled around……….

        Like 6
      • HoA Howard A ( since 2014) Member

        Hi Ken, so that’s where they came from. Chicago was about the only place any unusual car could be found. Like I say, every once in a while, one would go by, and was just so unusual to see among a sea of boxy Ramblers.

        Like 3
      • Karen

        Grew up in a small rural town of Hemet, CA and a guy in my class, his dad had one of these. It was cool looking at but odd at the same time when most farmers/ranchers had pick up trucks and moms all had Buicks or Fords. A few of us would have VWs or me-Karman Ghia. The Citroen was a cool/oddity in our small town in the 60s

        Like 2
    • Terrry

      GI’s brought them home from Europe in some cases. This was before needing to have them “smogged ” by the EPA so they could run on US highways.

      Like 2
      • Vlrd56

        When i was young DS 19-21 and later 23 where the queens of the roads, any roads with no peticular problem of maintenance.
        The only thing was that at the back we wheree sick by the smoothest of the suspension

        Like 4
      • Slomoogee

        Those were the days Terry. Back in the 60s and 70s when I was hunting for weird cars to sell, some of my best hunting was done on a Sunday morning with the newspaper and a stack of bills in larger towns near bases that were active and had GIs coming and going from them. MGs Triumph Anglias Alpines were enlisted guys cars they brought back. Officers tended to go for the big Aston Martins, Healy’s Rover sedans, with the occasional Swede thrown in. No rusted hulks pulled out of fields by folks that think it’s worth big bucks.

        Like 3
  4. alphasud Member

    I think this is the same car that was a part of a multi car stash reported in the beginning of last year.

    https://barnfinds.com/oregon-shop-collection-1963-citroen-safari-e-types-and-more/

    Like 4
  5. Christo

    I have a late model D Safari like this. I had a 1966 more like this “first nose” model. Sold it to a friend in Canad for 300 bucks. The old ones get pricy to resurrect due to the DOT3 fluid in the hydraulics. If they’re lucky, they might get it working again. Being in a barn is a bonus.

    Like 5
  6. Lumpy

    Many years ago I worked part time at a garage in western Canada that serviced MG’s and Triumphs as well as Citroens. There was always 1 or 2 new Citroens in the “showroom”. Lived the way these things drive.

    Like 4
  7. nhcarnut

    Looks like an early 60’s Ford pickup radio .
    That steering wheel is something else …

    Like 4
  8. Maggy

    Looks like the tailgate strut is a 2 two piece break in half design with a slide lock not hydraulic.

    Like 5
    • Ken Nelson Member

      Maggy, there are two versions of the break hatch strut – early ones like this were only slightly spring-loaded to help in lifting the hatch. Later ones had a larger diameter upper tube with hefty spring in them – no hydraulics to fail – good old steel spring – and on top of that, you could take them beyond the latch stop – by further pushing up the hatch until its top front edge just touches the roof – for a few more inches of headroom. Try that in any other break.

      The tailgate drops down to horizontal to provide another foot of load support, and to top that off, the lic. plate frame is pivotable to show the plate in proper position when the tailgate is down – no hiding from authorities with these cars.

      The automatic load leveling occurs at each end of the car, for perfect balaning regardless of load. I once carried a 1000 lb. load of wood in the back of a ’61 ID break I bought in Chicago – around 1968 – for $150 and it was a driver. The suspension just pumped itself up to normal ground clearance, which automatically – zero electrics involved – stiffens the nitrogen gas springs, to up the spring rate as the gas is further compressed. The car will do the French roll a bit more, but the shocks on these cars NEVER wear out – theyre just spring steel flow control discs – nothing to fail – no seals even like hyd. shocks as they’re internal to the suspension cylinder on each wheel. You can even tune the shocks yourself if you have a supply of the super thin spring discs, as they’re clamped together by a bolt thru their middle and can be changed with a socket wrench! Citroen hydropneumatic suspension is the closest thing to flying without leaving the ground that you’ll ever experience with a system with good gas springs — and each gas spring is now available with a permanent shock for under $100 – spring and shock all in one, and changeable in 10 mins with a strap wrench – try THAT on any other car!!

      Like 13
      • maggy

        Cool. I used to see one every once in awhile when I was a kid. Had the Corgi car of it too .

        Like 4
      • Jon.in.Chico

        Hi, Ken … in reference to a post above, did you ever go to the Wooden Nickle on “nickle night” … I lived in Lake Forest years ago and nickle night was a big deal … on another note, I never saw a Citroen up close but used to pass a blue wagon almost every day on I-80 on the way to work in Napa on Hwy 12 … I;ve always liked the DS models …

        Like 1
      • Ken Nelson Member

        Jon, I lived in Chicago twice – first, from fall ’66 thru ’70, while in grad school at the IIt Institute of Design on the so. side, then ’74-’78 in Highland Park, where unfortunately the shooting occurred earlier – but never heard of the Wooden Nickle. The person who has done the most to keep Citroens alive in the States is John Chassin, who wrote and self-illustrated and self-published the paperback “Why Citroen” about 40 yrs ago. John describes the car very thoroughly and especially details how to restore a rusty chassis, as he did that one cold winter in Winnetka, using tinsnips, drill, and pop rivets – mig welding didn’t exist back then – around 1968. Then he extended the available knowledge by doing a version covering the Citroen Maserati, or SM – called “How Citroen”. These books are now collectors items. John now resides in Mundelein with his two DSs and an SM. To prove how well an amateur restoration with minimal tools can work, he shipped the project car he bought out of a junkyard for $125, we drove it to his home with the dash and whole front end twisting in front of us, and after he finished, shipped the car back to France where me moved temporarily, and took me for a ride in that very car on the Boulevard Peripherique at 100 mph! At one point, the right rear tire didn’t like that speed, blew suddenly, and the hubcap rattled around inside the fender before shooting out and ahead of us onto the road! The car didn’t miss a beat. Since then, H copied his poprivet approach to salvage a DS smacked hard in the trunk by a Bug doing 40 mph, which crushed the trunk to the base of rear window. As the car was still driveable, I bought the car from the owner, unbolted the roof, cut the car thru the middle of the gastank box under the rear seat, and popriveted a good rear end onto the front. Drove that car for several yrs, then gave it to John, who decided he wanted a wagon. So he drilled out my rivets, and spliced a wagon rear to the front with more rivets and drove that car until Chicago salt ate it. That’s the sort of stuff you can do with these Citroens!

        Like 4
  9. Mark Krahn

    I’ve restored an earlier version of this (a 1960) and if anyone is even remotely considering taking a run at this, I can assure you they’re a blast to restore! Hard work and abit spendy at times, but parts sourcing and “figuring out” this car really is not as hard as it may seem. The good thing about the extent of work this car needs is you can switch over to the mineral (lhm) fluid and upgrade some of your hydraulic parts to a newer style in the process. If anyone’s considering this let me know- I’ve got parts and plenty of info (and 2 more just like this!)

    Like 11
  10. Mike

    And I thought Citroëns couldn’t get uglier.

    Like 5
  11. Tony T

    Aloha, Mister Hand!

    Like 0
  12. Motorcityman

    Uglier than sin!

    Like 2
  13. Fran

    I wonder about the Quonset hut? Would that be a farm? Or is there something underground?

    Like 0
    • DON

      I’d rather have the Quonset hut , but to each his own …

      Like 0
  14. Chris Cornetto

    I drove one for a brief time in the 80s. I could not tell you the year but that button on the floor for the brakes if memory serves me. The outer space steering wheel. It was a sedan the guy drove it into the wrecking yard and left it. The big issue was rust and leaky hydraulics. Everyone said it fit me since driving a 59 Caddy or chevy wasn’t normal dailies then. I forget what broke but there were NO parts for it
    No internet, no nuttin’. As the saying went never buy a French car unless you live in France. I would still love to have one but not to restore, a decent copy to care for and maintain is as far as I would go.

    Like 2
  15. charlie Member

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, when these came out in 1954/55 they were far ahead of their time, and, when I got to ride in one in France in 1962 they were still far ahead of their time, ride wise. Smooth as silk on French cobblestone city streets, silent, fast as one could go on the French highways of the time. Just wonderful cars. But, by 1971, in the US, the garage I went to had one in the back, “waiting for parts” for several years until the garage gave up and it went to the junkyard.

    Like 5
    • nhcarnut

      Quonset hut , is that French ?

      Like 1
    • Terrry

      While a unibody construction, the floorplans are below the outer frame rails, like the Hudson step-downs. Also the Citroen has a trick up its sleeve. If one of the rear tires goes flat, you can remove the wheel and drive the car on three wheels.

      Like 0
  16. Rick in Oregon Rick in Oregon

    I own and drive a 1969 D Special, the sixth Citroen I’ve had in the last 20 years. As with any oddball car, knowing the right people and resources is key to owning/repairing/driving one. No your local mechanic will have no idea how to fix it so if you don’t have an imagination and can turn a wrench, Best Buy a Ford. These are really nice cars to drive, a handful to work on but for me always worth it. I have woken up a couple of these from long slumbers, sometimes it’s easy, other times it’s painful but entirely doable and the end result is a car with an unparalleled ride.

    Like 6
  17. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    Back in the early 80s when I was doing shade-tree wrenching for customers (try changing a Volvo station wagon clutch in the winter in a gravel driveway), there was a parts store called (imaginatively) Overseas Car Parts. The owner, a young fellow, had 2 mechanic friends who worked both in garages and on their own. They had both been to Vietnam and learned how to repair Citroens. The Thorpe brothers: Merle owned a beautiful Citroen convertible, and I wouldn’t doubt still does, and Daye owned one of these station wagons (which I believe he’s still driving around town). They had others as well. They were go-to wrenches for Citroens.

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Eric_13cars,

      When you lived in NoVa, did you know of a Citroen [and other French cars] specialist [Phillipe?] who had his shop located in a row of warehouse/garage units on the east side of I-95, just south of Springfield?

      In the early 1980s when he was closing his shop, I ended up buying his light gray1962 Ami-6 Break — do you remember that car and/or his shop? He also had a few more Citroens, and I was going to buy his Dyanne, an ID sedan, a DS 21 sedan, and possibly his H-Van, but when I came back a few weeks later, everything was gone.

      Should have put a deposit on the vehicles as they were cheap [but not running], but I wanted first to arrange room in my building.

      Like 2
  18. Al T Al T

    Is the Citroen a full frame or a unibody? The body looks solid, but those door gaps…… it looks like it’s sagging.

    Like 0
    • Ken Nelson Member

      The big Citroens are unibody Al T, and first went unibody in 1934 when they introduced another iconic car, the Citroen Traction Avant, the milestone mid-engined FWD car whose engine block was carried over into the DS series introduced to an astonished world Oct 1955.

      Interesting how many folks don’t recognize the shape of birds, fish, and about any creature which has to overcome air resistance to survive. Around 1967 I came across an aerodynamics article where cars of that time were compared in a wind tunnel. What struck me, but didn’t surprise me one bit, was that the DS sedan had a lower drag factor than the Porsche 911 – not too shabby for a family sedan!! Few people realize the DS has the flattest, most aerodynamically smooth bellypan of any car ever built. Not only that, but if you look at the rear edge of most modern SUVs and wagons today, you’ll find those mfrs copied the rear edge of the DS roof. It took me some time to recognize that the DS roof, which ends, then the body drops a couple inches down to the top of the rear windshield, which also slopes strongly toward the trunklid, which also slopes down to a recessed stainless steel bumper. AND underneath the trunk, its floor slopes UP from the bellypan as it meets the rear bumper bottom.

      The air off the roofline is sucked down to the rear end by a rotating vortex of air which appears at the rear glass top, and the rotation meets airflow coming off the roof edge smoothly, so the overall effect is of a perfect Kamm tail aerodynamically – the roof air is pulled down to meet the upward vectored bottom air to meet the top flow and minimize drag, and it all works.

      NOW – start looking at modern cars rear roof edges, and you should notice that many of them have shamelessly copied the DS roof rear edge – to improve their poor fuel economy. Whatever anyone thinks of the DS shape, that design just a few yrs ago was voted the most beautiful design by an international committee of car designers enthusiasts. Plus, the DS, back in 1999, at the end of a worldwide vote by people who were asked to elect the “most significant cars of the first 100 yrs of the auto biz”. The Ford T took first by default, 2nd was the British Mini due to its transforming transverse, super compact design, and 3rd was the DS, for sheer overall innovation in total versus anything else on the road before or since. Which is why I challenge anyone to name a car that in one fell swoop, introduced so much groundbreaking technology, comfort, and very good ergonomics. So far only one person has offered an alternative challenge, and that was a car built around turn of the century which happened to be the very first hybrid gals/elec. car. Anyone else out there up to this challenge?

      Funny how so many people think of the DS as ugly – a lot of them have changed their minds after experiencing one in the flesh –

      Like 4
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Ken,

        I’ll take you up on the challenge. I submit the pre-WW2 Tatra T-77 and T-87 cars. I’m including the 2 types as one basic design, with the 87 as a refined version. Production streamlined bodies, air-cooled V8 with twin OHC, all steel main body shell, Headlights recessed into the fenders.

        I’ve always speculated that Citroen continued to refine Tatra’s streamlined flat floors. Around 1990 I had a 1967 Citroen DS 21 and a 1962 Tatra T2-603 [with the narrow 4 headlight front] next to each other in my shop, and I began comparisons, with the underside of both body shells looking almost identical.

        I’ve been interested in streamlined vehicles since early childhood, including Jaray’s early work. From Tatra to the Labatt beer trucks in Canada, I’ve wanted them all.

        I’ve always said the best method of selling a nicely sorted out, running and driving Citroen DS is:

        1. Bring the potential buyer to the car while he’s wearing a blindfold.

        2. Have him sit in the driver’s seat before taking the blindfold off.

        3. Then invite him to drive the car over the worst possible road conditions.

        4. The car will sell itself.

        Like 3
  19. maggy

    Lusious Jackson had the sedan version in her music video naked eyes at a European airport back in the early 90’s.

    Like 2
  20. Rick M M Rick M Member

    I must be a shallow person because I don’t care how well built or reliable or smooth riding these cars were. This is by far the ugliest mass produced abomination I have ever seen. It looks like a giant slipper! Oh well, at least I’m glad someone sees the beauty in it, after all, we’re all still “car guys”! Enjoy!😊👍

    Like 4
    • Bob

      Well, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but that sure raises the question of how some like one thing and others think it’s ugly! Function before form wins me over. I love the Daimler SP 250, the Bugeye Sprite as well as the Citroen ID I once owned.

      Like 2
  21. Frank Barrett Member

    Right now I enjoy a 2CV, but 50 years ago I talked a co-worker into buying a Citroen ID wagon virtually identical to this one. We had a job monitoring wells in the NW Colorado oil fields, and the wagon was ideal for the rough dirt roads there. We must have frightened the locals in Meeker and Rifle, Colorado, but we always made it home to Denver. We once coasted all the way down from the top of Loveland Pass to Idaho Springs. Then my buddy went off the deep end and bought an SM!

    Like 5
  22. Peter Phillips

    Funny how college towns and college professors are repeatedly identified with these cars. That’s precisely where I used to see one of these wagons. My biology professor at U.N.H. in the 1970s drove one of these; yes it was two-tone gray; yes it was a station wagon!

    Like 2
    • Martin Horrocks

      Architects and art gallery owners get these. Middle America probably doesn´t.

      These are wonderfully practical machines. Because of the unbelievably smooth suspension, the ID/DS Break was often used in Europe as a camera car for sports broadcasts like horse/bike racing. They were popular vehicles for cycle racing and car rally teams as well.

      Like 2
  23. Martin Horrocks

    Ugly is in the eye oth beholder. What if II told you this would sell for big $$$ just as it is in France?

    Like 3
  24. Motorcityman

    I don’t care how much it’s worth, or how good it rides or runs or ANYTHING.
    I can’t drive a UGLY vehicle unless it was used at some work yard or something!

    Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Motorcityman,

      I’ve been collecting [for over 50 years] what others call ugly cars, Including ’51-’52 Studebaker starlight coupes, 1948 & 1958 Packards, Tatra T2-603s, Citroens of many types, NSU 2-cyl Prinz coupe, BMW 501 sedan, Nash Airflyte 2-door fastback, as well as many other interesting US & European cars.

      Over the years I came to this unexpected realization; Some of the most beautiful and intelligent ladies I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, have expressed their love for these cars, and would often ask if we could use on of these unusual [IE ugly] cars instead of the more mundane cars I’ve owned.

      One former girlfriend [who sadly died of a brain aneurism in her late 20s] put it this way: “The most interesting guys seem to drive crazy cars!” Given the choice of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith limo, or the Tatra, she would prefer the Tatra most of the time.

      Like 3
  25. Bob

    I bought a used Citroen ID used in 1963 (I was in college). I took it to a local garage get an oil change. Mechanic came out and said sell it, it has no brakes, and the tires are no good, they are flat! Well for the Citroen Newby, Citroen had inboard front brakes and the tires were early Michelin radials. It was an amazing car. Unfortunately, I later wrecked it but sold it for parts at twice the price I paid for it! I still laugh at the mechanic’s comments!

    Like 0
  26. Steve

    Funny- I have a FEw I hood , trunk lid and rear window.
    Looking foe enthusiastic individual to put them to use!

    Like 0
  27. Bill

    If you are a Citroen fan, this one will clean your bank account more than other Citroens,just please drive it in the dark

    Like 1
  28. Ken Nelson Member

    Al T asks why the large doorgaps. I asked the same question of a Citroen engineer during a biztrip to consult with them around 1987. Each gap is covered by a wide rubber strip anchored to the front of each door. The engineer told me that the DS was originally designed to use plastic bodypanels for low weight and improved fuel economy, and the company was worried that the unreinforced panels (no glassfiber reinforcement in the material) would expand a lot in very hot climates, like Africa and other hot area where the cars were sold. SO – they designed wide gaps, but covered them with the wide seals – to inprove airflow past the gaps and reduce drag!

    Turns out that the car’s initial showing in Paris led to the largest single amount of purchase orders taken during the first day of an auto show – 12,000 orders for a car no one had ever seen before! By the end of the show, Citroen had 80,000 orders booked – a record that was only recently exceeded by Tesla around 2016! How’s that for a car some people think is not attractive???? However, that volume of orders could never have been fulfilled if plastic panels were used, as plastics take longer to process than stampings, which can be whacked out in seconds, compared to minutes for plastics. So – the whole body had to go to metal. I was absolutely shocked by hearing this from the Citroen engineer, as I was working to promote the use of modern plastics for bodypanels, and here Citroen had beaten me to the punch by 55 years, but couldn’t produce enough fast enough!

    Like 3
  29. Motorcityman

    KAREN….
    MY daughter lives in Hemet.
    I lived in Menifee from 1994 to 2019.
    Hemet is pretty bad crime wise now.

    Like 1
  30. JB@1025

    I understand there was a Dealer in Houston back in the day.

    Like 0

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