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The car was designed as a successor to the popular Traction Avant by Italian stylist Flaminio Bertoni, an experienced industrial designer and sculptor. In an effort to achieve a perfect balance between form and function, Bertoni was conceptually guided by the French aeronautical engineer, André Lefébvre. The result of the collaboration was a pioneering car that combined unmatched aerodynamic efficiency with cutting-edge technology in a way that had not been done before.
The DS debuted with a hydro-pneumatic system designed by André Lefèvre, which used the pressure ratio between gas and oil to manage the suspension, steering, transmission and brakes. The Citroen was also fitted with an ingenious semi-automatic transmission, allowing the driver to make clutchless gear changes. Most famously was the ability of the DS to glide across potholes, and even drive on three wheels. Achieved through the use of a sphere containing gas and oil separated by a rubber membrane, the Citroen became the car of choice for French dignitaries.
In 1955, Citroën introduced the DS21 and DS19, both with four-cylinder engines, the DS21 with a 2175cc (109hp) unit and the DS19 with a 1985cc (90hp) unit. In the case of the DS21, the new engine was a significant evolution over the Traction Avant, being equipped with a five-post crankshaft and a Bosch electronic fuel injection system. In 1967 the model received its first aesthetic update, giving it integrated optics and headlights capable of following the movement of the steering wheel—providing much improved night visibility around corners.
From 1969 onwards Citroën equipped all DS21’s with the D-Jetronic electronic injection system by Bosch, helping to make the 21 one of the most powerful in the DS range with 113hp. In terms of power, the 1969 DS21 was second only to the DS23 variants. The DS23 outputted 115hp from the 2.3 litre version of the four-cylinder engines fitted with carburetors and 130hp from the fuel-injected version.
Citroën eventually replaced the semi-automatic gearbox with a five-speed manual gearbox but gave its customers the option to specify a three-ratio Borg-Warner automatic transmission if they wanted.
The 1973 Citroën DS Super S in the Museu do Caramulo comes equipped with a historically correct five-speed manual gearbox, introduced by the French brand from 1970.
In 1975, 20 years after the DS went into commercial production, Citroën ceased its production, and the famous car bowed out with a total of 1,330,755 units produced.
This car was donated to the Museu do Caramulo by José Ramos da Costa.