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Citroën DS21 Rally Car- 1974


When the Citroën D Series or DS (pronounced DAY-ess and sounding quite appropriately like the French word for goddess) was introduced at the 1955 Paris Auto Salon, it turned quite a few heads and booked 12,000 orders on the show’s first day. It had an unconventional construction of both aluminum and fiberglass materials which reduced weight. It’s most innovative feature was its extensive and sophisticated hydropneumatic suspension, designed by Paul Mages. It included an automatic self-leveling system with variable ground clearance. With independent suspension on all four corners, the DS achieved sharp handling but also an extremely comfortable ride. In the DS, the hydraulic system also provided assistance for the power steering, inboard mounted front disc brakes, and a semi-automatic transmission called the “Citromatic” that did not require a clutch pedal. In 1972, the DS23 was introduced abroad, complete with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional three-speed Borg-Warner automatic, and fuel-injection.

Citroën had designed for an air-cooled flat-six engine which never made production. Despite its four-cylinder engine, the DS was successful in motorsports such as rallying, where sustained speeds on poor surfaces are par for the course. The DS won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1959 and again in 1966, after the controversial disqualification of the BMC Mini-Cooper team.

The Citroën DS placed fifth on Automobile Magazine’s “100 Coolest Cars” listing in 2005. In 2009, the Citroën DS was named the most beautiful car of all time by Classic & Sports Car magazine after a poll of 20 world-renowned car designers, which included: Giorgetto Giugaro, Ian Callum, Paul Bracq, Marcell Gandini, and Gordon Murray.

The 1974 Citroën DS21 seen here has seemingly been prepared for rallying and presented in the Dutch national racing color—bright orange. Its competition history, if any, is unknown.

Manufacturer: Automobiles Citroën, Citroën SA
Country of Origin: France
Drivetrain Configuration: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine: Water-cooled flat-four, 2175cc, 109 bhp
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Top Speed: 111 mph
Years of Production: 1955-75 (D-Series) DS21 (only) 1965-72
Number Produced: 1,455,746 (D-Series)
Original Cost: 32,416 FF ($4,255 USD in 1972)