Why is it special?
The Citroën DS isn’t important only because it unified the two halves of the driving experience, but also because it added a host of vehicle features that were uncommon at the time. The vehicle had power steering and a semi-automatic transmission – omitting the need for a clutch – and used disc brakes when everyone else was still using drum brakes. Later models had the headlights swivel with the steering wheel, effectively innovating the idea of predictive lighting, a feature that’s only becoming common today. It was also among the first non-performance cars to take aerodynamics into account, making it look very different to other cars back then.
Hydraulic Suspension. And a few other things
Most cars only use hydraulic systems for their steering and braking mechanics. The Citroën DS was the first car to apply it to a vehicle’s suspension system – and with fantastic results. This suspension system allowed the car to achieve sharp, motor-sport-like levels of handling and cornering, but without sacrificing ride quality. Commenters at the time frequently called driving a Citroën DS like being on a ‘magic carpet’. It meant you could finally have a car that was both a comfortable Sunday driver and rip-roaring racer.
Can you get it today?
Citroën kept the DS in production for 20 years, the last one rolling off the line in 1975. This means there are still a few floating around. Available, though, doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. Because of its unique looks, innovative features and place in motoring history, the DS has maintained a high asking price. Depending on the model, year and condition, getting one can cost anywhere between R220 000 and R400 000.