Très Française: 1964 Citroën ID-19

Barring perhaps the Citroën 2CV, there is no car more quintessentially French than the Citroën DS. This particular Citroën, wearing a faded Tricolour and having been a long-term fixture outside Denver’s Alliance Française, must then be a contender for the most French of French cars in North America. It is listed here on craigslist for $3,500. Many thanks to Gunter Kramer for the tip!

When the DS-19 was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1955, it was nothing less than revolutionary, offering such advancements as power steering, front disc brakes, and a semi-automatic transmission. The DS was utterly unlike anything else on the road in terms of design; indeed, it was so far ahead of its time that the basic design would remain unchanged for twenty years. It’s hard to think of another car from the 50’s that didn’t look out of place in the mid-70’s. Yet the of all the many innovations that the Citroën brought to light, the most often discussed is surely the hydropneumatic suspension system that allowed the car to maintain a constant, driver-selected ride height. While this is often mentioned in the context of mitigating the poor road conditions of 1950’s France, the system gives these cars an amazingly smooth ride that few vehicles can match.

Kramer notes in his tip that this particular car might not be a DS-19, but an example of the more budget-friendly ID-19; based on the absence of the mushroom brake button, I suspect he’s right. The DS was a very expensive car, and Citroën felt it wise to offer a somewhat less well-equipped version to meet the needs of the average motorist. The ID-19 saved mostly on hydraulics: among other changes, it did away with the semi-automatic transmission and the power steering. Yet the hydropneumatic suspension remained, and any enthusiast purchasing this car with an eye to restoring it would do well to familiarize himself with this marvel of engineering. The seller reports that the car, while complete, has rust that must be addressed– no word on (or view of) the engine. He also mentions that he’d be interested in any parts that might be available, pointing to another possible difficulty for anyone looking to return this machine to its former glory.

The word “iconic” gets thrown around a lot these days, but in the case of the DS, it definitely fits. Very few things can immediately evoke 1960’s France so completely as this car. For many enthusiasts, it offers a unique alternative to the British, German, and Italian imports of the period. To the right driver, though, it can offer a supremely refined perspective on classic car ownership.


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  1. Mike
    • John Manders

      revive this car aswell as the colors. Love these Frenchies, FYI; DS = deiesse = godess
      and ID = Idea. Just think as how clever these cars were named.

  2. Dan Johnston

    I rank the DS21 (and similar) up there with the Lockheed Constellation, Supermarine Spitfire, and E-Type Jags as Most Beautiful Things Created by the Hand of Man, but this poor old girl looks like all the trouble in the world. A beautiful place for money to go to die. A Citroen specialist’s kid’s college fund in the offing, plus maybe a nice cabin at the lake.

    Like 2
  3. Motorcityman Member

    Ugly as sin……No, uglier!

    Like 2
  4. Solosolo Member

    Gorgeous….No, fantastic!

    Like 9
    • Motorcityman Member

      The AMC PACER is better looking!!
      And I think thats ugly.

    • Motorcityman Member

      That steering wheel is an abomination too!! 😄

  5. Rick Rothermel

    Looks like one in Toby Halicki’s JUNKMAN, except it’s not wrecked or upside down.

    Like 2
  6. 370zpp

    Columbo on acid. .

    Like 1

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