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Vive La France! 1965 Citroen DS19


As you might well imagine, some of my thoughts have been France-related lately, and this “Goddess” (comes from the French pronunciation of DS) that I came across is an example of the best of France. This example of the most innovative cars ever built is located in Neenah, Wisconsin and is up for sale here on eBay, where the opening bid is $4,000 with no reserve.


If you are not familiar with this technological wonder, you owe it to yourself to learn a bit about these cars. Introduced in 1955 with so many revolutionary features I don’t have the space to list them there, the DS was without a doubt the most modern and innovative production car built up to that point. One of the innovations was hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension–this car used hydraulics for a lot of things you wouldn’t expect. In this particular vehicle’s case, there’s an issue with the system that showed itself when the owner tried to raise the vehicle on the suspension for pictures; the hydraulic fluid started pouring out at one of the front brakes (the systems are interconnected). Obviously, that would have to be taken care of before putting the car back on the road.


Want faired-in rear wheels to help the aerodynamics? No fender skirts here; the Citroen engineers just made the whole rear fenders easily removable so that you can access the rear wheels to change a flat! If I remember correctly, you can tell the car to pick up one wheel in order to change the flat tire; I know that was a feature on later Citroens.


The engine is one of the more unremarkable things about the DS, but it’s a testimony to the design of the car that more than adequate performance is achieved with only a 1911 cc 4-cylinder engine. The seller tells us that it was their father’s project car and has been in a warehouse for the past 10 years. Despite this, when fed off a buddy tank, the engine started right up and runs well. There are the usual problems of a car having been off the road for a long time, and those problems are exacerbated when the car is as complex and esoteric as this one is, but the body shell is largely solid and I think it would be a good base to start from.


How many one-spoke steering wheels and push-button (look at the floor) brakes have you ever seen? The interior looks quite nice apart from the missing headliner, so that’s one area that won’t need a tremendous amount of work. I’ve only ridden in one once, and that was as a young child, but even then the softness of the ride made an impression on me. To the right enthusiast, this could be a very special car. Are you that enthusiast?


  1. skloon

    Looks nice and clean

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  2. Rich

    Jay Leno has a fantastic video on youtube featuring his.

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  3. Bobsmyuncle

    These are so cool. And white is a great colour.

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  4. John T

    Actually, it’s not a DS-19, it’s an ID-19. All DS-19 had a semi automatic transmission (no clutch pedal). This one clearly has a clutch pedal so it’s an ID. (Note also that the parking brake is hand operated rather than with a pedal – clearly and ID-19).

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Thanks, John — I’m definitely no Citroen expert — was just quoting the ad :-) I’ll make the correction.

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      • Aaron

        He’s updated his ad with a pic of the vin plate. It’s a definitely a DS.

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      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        :-) Ok, I’ll change it back :-)

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    • Aaron

      As far as I know, the ID had conventional hydraulic brakes, not the mushroom. A standard manual gearbox was an option on the DS from 1963. I’d say this is a DS. There was another on ebay last week that was trying to pass as a DS, but it had three pedals, not two and a mushroom.

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  5. rogerowen

    I owned one of these in the early 70’s (mine was a 1963 RHD DS not an ID, & it had a black roof). Beautiful styling, gorgeous leather interior, fast, unbelievably comfortable and a complete plumbing nightmare! A hydraulic system operating the self-levelling suspension, power steering, brakes and the semi automatic pre-select gearbox – all through a single circuit. Just one little seal somewhere in the Hydro-labyrinth goes ‘pop’ and the whole shooting match literally collapsed to ground level. And, that happened many, many times!
    Would I ever buy another one? ………… You bet!!!

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  6. Nick G

    I have had the pleasure of doing several long distance runs in Citroëns, one from Quebec City to Miami in a DS 20 Pallas. They are absolute marvels. High cruising speed combined with amazing hydraulic assisted, inboard front discs. The Pallas (Palace) model is exceptionally comfortable. They are exceptional in snow as the underside is completely enclosed for aerodynamic purposes, and if you get in too much snow, you raise and lower the body, to pack the snow. Unfortunately they rust badly…

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  7. randy

    A neighbor had one of these in the 60’s when I lived in Harlingen, Tx. I don’t think I liked them then, and I don’t think I like them now. They look like a “silver fish”.

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  8. jim s

    i would love to drive an ID/DS, but not own one. i think the hydraulic system is too much of an issue. still i hope this car goes to a good home. interesting find.

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  9. Stephen

    Just as the name of the DS is a pun (“deesse”=”goddess”), so is that of the ID (“idee”=”idea”). Like the rest of the car–very clever. And honestly I think I’d prefer the slightly simpler Idea over the more complex Goddess anyway.

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    • RayT Member

      Maintenance-wise, I agree. But my DS, which had the “automatic” you-shift transmission — run off the hydraulic system — and all the bells and whistles Citroen could lay on at the time (’67), was a total joy to drive. Of course this was in the late ’80s, so seals and hoses were beginning to fail, which meant there were times when the whole car sat like an immobile lump in the driveway until repaired, minus suspension, brakes, steering and shifting.

      Still, I’d go for the full-boat model. I still regret letting it go.

      Oh, and Jamie: the hydraulic system did not “pick up one wheel” for tire-changing. You ran the suspension to its highest setting, stuck the provided brace in the jack-point on whichever side had the flat, and BOTH wheels on that side came off the ground! Simple and effective. And weird, just like the rest of the car!

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      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Ray, thanks for the detail on the jacking; I wondered how that worked!

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  10. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I’m green for this Goddess. See what I did there?

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  11. RayT Member

    Jamie, it was very simple: When the brace was put in place (suspension at its highest setting) and the suspension was then lowered to its lowest make-lowriders-green-with-envy position, only the unbraced side could drop. The side with the brace stayed up in the air as the system compensated. Easier to do than describe!

    I remember another benefit of the self-leveling suspension: a flat tire didn’t mean stopping. In fact, the driver couldn’t tell a tire was down! I once drove my DS from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena with a flat left front; my passengers and I were none the wiser.

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  12. Mark S

    I have never had a desire to own one of these cars, there just not my deal I personally think there one of the ugliest cars I have ever seen, that said they strike me as one of those car you either love them or hate them. This example seem to be in respectable shape and as they say there’s an ass for every seat, I’m sure a citron guy is out there that will give it a new home. And I’m good with that.

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    • Jason Houston

      EEEEGADS! ! A face only its mother could love.

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  13. Aaron

    I want a DS so much. I’d rather go all out and get the Citromatic semi-auto gear box. Complex? Sure, but nowhere close to my 89 Buick Reatta. I’ll take a french hydraulic system over an 80’s touchscreen.

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  14. Howard A Member

    I agree with randy. These have always been known as “the fish”. Probably an outstanding car. French cars have always been “over engineered”. I’ll bet this car glides down the highway. Like most here, the hydraulic’s would worry me, and the one spoke steering wheel.( always creeped me out) I never knew that about the tire changing deal and jack brace. Apparently, like RayT sez, they can be driven on 3 wheels. Incredible car, just not for me.

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  15. Jason Houston

    We used to call these “electric cockroaches” when we were kids. The ’48 is even worse, and we called those poor things “Sardine Can Citroens” because of the way the convertible top unwinds – like a can of sardines.

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  16. Joe Howell

    For nearly 60 years I’ve thought them ugly, still do. Like French firearms they’re just too odd ball to please my eye.

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  17. piper62j

    Nope.. Not for me.. these were cheezy cars back in the day.. Some of them had the rear fenders fall off due to rot..

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  18. Jason Houston

    If someone wants to really OD on Citroens, there’s a town called Cadiz (between Danby and Amboy) on Route 66. Someone there has a big farm and there must be 40 electric cockroaches just sitting there, most nearly complete and in good shape.

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  19. kenzo

    Looks Ugly.
    Always Did and Always Will

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  20. Jason Houston

    Stands out in traffic like turd in a punch bowl.

    Why can’t these “ratrodders’ go after these things? They’d be doing the world a favor!

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  21. Jerome Sanson

    This car looks in very good condition and the price is good. the problem with the DS, CX and SM is the hydraulic leak suspension spheres. A sphere with a useful life of about 85000 miles, but the years are often involved in reducing this limit, by attacking the famous diaphragm that separates the damper gas (nitrogen) hydraulic fluid. When nitrogen is lacking, the car starts to jump and frankly the risk of rupture of the membrane is great. This is a simple operation within reach of novice car mechanics but you need to know the repair procedure.
    To do this, take a look here it’s a French enthusiasm Club : http://www.dsclubrevolution55.fr/technique/changement-de-sphere.
    Use the Google translator to understand. You’ll see it’s very simple operation.

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  22. Jason Houston

    If someone parked one of these disgusting loads in my neighborhood I’d have him arrested for vandalism and littering.

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